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eSpecially Parents June Edition: Denise's Story

When Luke was a baby I was proud to say he was a mama’s boy. He would reach for me while someone else was holding him and cry for me to pick him up when he would wake or need comfort. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy this attention and I am glad I did while it lasted. Luke has since made a new best friend. His name is Daddy.

I love watching the two of them play together. Luke is all boy and loves to roughhouse with his dad. I often hear his signature laugh from across the house when he sees his dad and practices walking back and forth to his waiting arms. He also loves to hear his dad cheer him on while he plays with his basketball hoop. One of my favorite games that they play is ring a round of the rosy because I know Luke will include me in on this one.

Matt and I have been married for 12 years. Having a special needs child definitely changed our relationship. We have a lot of worry. Will he need more surgeries? Will he ever talk or communicate more effectively? What if he gets hurt? Do we allow him to be more independent or do we need to hover more to keep him safe. We also have a lot of joy. Despite all of Luke’s challenges I don’t have to question whether he is happy. As long as he is reasonably healthy and happy the other challenges can be worked out.

I know the statistics for staying married while having a special needs child are not in our favor and this scares me. The divorce rate for parents of typical children is high enough. Throw in the added stress of doctor’s visits, surgeries, hospitalizations, therapy sessions, medical bills, fighting with insurance companies, and worrying about your child’s future and you can have a recipe for marital disaster. Matt and I try to defy these odds by making sure that we spend lots of family time together. I look forward to our weekends together where we can just get out, have a good time, and de-stress.

One thing I know we need to work on to keep our relationship healthy is having a date night every so often. I know most married couples recommend this special one on one time to keep the marriage alive and vibrant. We recently had a night out for the first time by ourselves in a few years. Although we had a great time, it felt strange not having the kids with us and we spent most of the night worrying about them. On the other hand, it was nice to be able to engage in a full adult conversation without getting interrupted, not to mention several hours free of whining and crying. I think I need to shoot for a night out every month and will try to make this a priority for our sanity.

I know our marriage is not perfect but whose is anyway? Every couple has stress and issues to work out so we are no different. Despite all the challenges we face as a couple, I feel lucky to have a great husband who is also a wonderful father.

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