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Can I Get a Little Respite?

Carving out special time with my neurotypical son was supposed to be relaxing and fun. So how come I feel so guilty?

How do I spell “guilt?” R-E-S-P-I-T-E!

My family started receiving respite services through a Child Mental Health Waiver in January. The goals are for Don and I to get some relief from the challenges of parenting Natalie, to spend some quality time together, and to give Aaron some much-needed attention.

We hand-picked two respite providers that we thought Natalie would love to spend time with. Allie, the lead teacher in Natalie’s daycare room, hangs out with Natalie for a couple of hours 2 or 3 times per month. They eat at McDonalds, then go shop for a toy at Target. Natalie goes to her Aunt Ann’s house (my sister’s) one weekend per month, most months.

Natalie left with Ann this afternoon, and the police haven’t rung my doorbell yet! Apparently none of the neighbors saw me drag Natalie, arms and legs wrapped around my right leg, down the front steps, across the grass, and force her into Ann’s car, screaming like she was being abducted.

I walked back into the house. “I’m doing this for Aaron.” I remind myself. Aaron is burying his face in the couch. He looks up, looking like he’s about to cry. “Why can’t I go to Aunt Ann’s?” he asked, and I can see the hurt on his face. In his eyes, Nat’s the chosen one. She’s getting special attention, while he’s left behind.

Relax? Rest? Reconnect with my husband and son? Someone make me a gin and tonic — fast! I’m supposed to be having fun.

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