Four years ago my sister announced that she had tickets to something called Queen of the Kingdom taught by Kim Duncan. It was a conference for women being held the last two days of our Utah vacation, which meant I could go.
I was thrilled; hear the sarcasm?
But she had already bought the tickets so she dragged me to the event. I wanted to spend some kid-free time with her and we planned lunch where you didn’t have to unwrap your food. (I’m looking at you McDonald’s.) If I had to listen to some touchy-feely stuff to have some girl time, so be it.
Life at home was difficult at this time. The entire family walked on eggshells, fearing meltdowns from my oldest autistic son, Levi. Grace, who has fetal alcohol syndrome, was experiencing learning difficulties. Sam was starting to show signs of what we would later diagnose as common variable immune deficiency. Ellie was trampled by a horse and spent 10 days in the pediatric intensive care. Her full recovery took a year and she was finally back on her feet. We moved and were still getting settled in our new home. Our lives were chaotic.
I was barely holding it together. The daily living of doctor appointments, therapies, medication refills, and household management were spending all the energy I had and I had nothing left for me.
So there I stood: angry, tired, scared, and fragile. I put on a facade of toughness to hide the absolute mess that was going on inside. I couldn’t afford to fall apart. I had too many people depending on me.
The conference began with some touchy-feely positive affirmations embracing womanhood (insert eye-roll). All around me were happy, smiling, well dressed women (jealous much?).
Then there was the music. It was the music that got me. Kim had us sing the words to a song called Little Me. Had I just said the words, I may have been able to hold it together. But we were singing. Singing adds power to what we say.
I’d tell her to speak up, tell her to shout out
Talk a bit louder, be a bit prouder
Tell her she’s beautiful, wonderful
Everything she doesn’t see
I realized three things that weekend:
- I needed to believe the words of the song, I was beautiful, wonderful, strong.
- I needed to pay attention to my needs and my emotions. I was not helping my family if I couldn’t deal with my emotions. And I needed to model better self-care habits for my children.
- I needed some new skills. I had learned a lot about parenting children, but very little about caring for the parent.
BJ and I know that parenting is HARD. We know that parents of special needs children rarely get relief. They often ignore their own needs because the needs of their children are so overwhelming.
Tomorrow my sister and I are returning to Queen of the Kingdom. This time I got the tickets and I am taking her. I could use a refresher and I definitely need some girl time. I’ll let you know what else I learn.
The song we sang is Little Me by Little Mix.