I just finished offering a two-night workshop series this week with a CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario) program that provides peer support to parents of children with complex medical needs.
The topic – sleep.
How did the facilitator, one of the Moms, introduce the topic on the first night?
“Beautiful, delicious, sweet, wonderful, elusive, lovely, sometimes a jerk – sleep.”
Anyone who is a parent will know the trials and tribulations encountered when your child is sick. Yet, imagine how you might find sleep when your child depends on feeding tubes or respirators as they can’t breathe on their own at night.
I didn’t have the opportunity to learn as much as I might like about them. That they showed up for an hour on two separate late evenings to do so inspires me. Suggests there is a need.
It is always challenging in planning and preparation to balance experiential practices with information. Experience is helpful for people but my role as I see it, is to also teach people mechanisms as to why these practices might help.
To provide tools that might be able to influence the elusiveness of sleep, when life is often so full of uncertainty. To gain a sense of agency over their own personal experience.
- How they might give themselves permission to… rest. Seems so simple yet in our culture, not so much.
- How they might take two minutes in the day, to notice what and how they feel and respond in some way with some helpful practices. With compassion.
As I’ve learned from mentors such as Shelly Prosko, Physiotherapist and Yoga Therapist (via research by Kristen Neff on self-compassion) a simple mantra or affirmation of kindness to oneself,
“It’s okay”, as you breathe in.
As you breathe out “This is enough.”
Can this be enough, just as it is?
I can at times feel anxious before doing this work. Is it enough? This week seemed more so, with all that’s going on and feeling not quite myself, rather fatigued.
In the end, I hope the sessions served to support them in some way.
As feedback from the facilitator, “The fact that these moms actually took an hour out of their time to join us is so wonderful. They do not take that time for themselves often enough. A lot of times they do not even have an hour to do anything other than care for their children. So, thank you for giving them that chance to restore and relax.”
I am most grateful for the opportunity. So much credit to these parents and really to anyone, all of us, caring for one another.
Might there also be time to care for ourselves, as well.
Permission to rest…