Taking Time Out
Bill and I love Cody immensely. And so much of the time we feel as though we should not exclude Cody from any part of our lives. We enjoy having him with us wherever we go. We even miss him when he’s gone with other family members. But we have let those feelings override our need to spend time together as a husband and wife should.
I’m talking about things as simple as just the two of us going out to dinner. Even when Cody spends the night with his grandparents, we have neglected to see that as an opportunity to sit on the sofa and spend time talking or just going out for ice cream at the local drive-in. When we get up in the mornings we may exchange conversation but we often wait for Cody to get up so we can spend time together as a family when we could have been sharing a cup of coffee on the patio together as a couple.
If others were to be able to see how an average day goes in our household, they may be led to believe that Bill and I were more like brother and sister who share a responsibility in Cody’s care instead of husband and wife who love our son dearly, but who also share a deep love for each other as well. In reality, this isn’t the case at all. Bill and I actually love each other very much.
Bill and I have talked and we both agree this is something that we need to address. But we’re going to have to get a little more creative about it. For us, it’s not as simple as calling up the girl next door to see if she is free to babysit Friday night. First of all, when you live in a rural area your next-door neighbor may live a good distance away from you. Just like you, they often have jobs outside their farms and lead very busy lives; maybe you have had a chance to get to know them and maybe you haven’t. But even if you’re like me and have siblings close by, circumstances still may not be right. I trust that my brother and sister both would do their very best to care for Cody and make him feel safe and loved. But they too have busy lives and their availability is limited. And neither of them has spent a great deal of time around Cody and wouldn’t know how to interpret a lot of what he says, his moods and what his actual needs might be.
There are respite services available. Some are in the form of daycare, which we are not in the market for. There are also respite caregivers who would be available to come to our home to stay with Cody for a few hours so we could have some time to ourselves. While we have always depended upon family members thus far for those rare nights out, we will be investigating candidates from those providers, as well as whether or not we can fit such services into our budget.
In the meantime, it is ultimately up to Bill and me to make time for us to be alone. First, we have to get past the feeling of guilt we have when we don’t include Cody in every minute of our day. It’s an easy trap to fall into for all parents who love their children regardless of whether they are neurotypical children or children with special needs. But an appropriate time for parents to be alone together without their children should not be looked upon as a selfish desire, it is needed and it will help parents to be better parents.
Alone time does not always require an outside caregiver. A little planning can go a long way. Some of my ideas include planning a night to make a cheese and sausage platter and have a bottle of wine we can share by the fire after Cody goes to bed. I would be happy having a dinner for two by candlelight out on the patio underneath the stars. And on those occasions when Code does go to his grandparents for a weekend, I’ll be happy to pack a picnic lunch and just go sightseeing for a day. Because sometimes parents need a “time-out”!