Many of my friends pick a word as their "theme" for their new year. They want to be "mindful" or "prayful" or "in the moment" (okay, that's a phrase). As 2013 came to a close, all I could think was "Thank God it's over." I did come up with two things I wanted to focus on in 2014: PEACE and HEALING. This week, I added another: HOPE.
See, for awhile now I've felt like the universe has been giving me a kick in the pants. We've had events in our personal lives that made me doubt anything good would happen. At church, I had several run ins with a woman I have dubbed The Crazy Church Lady that left me with anxiety every time I walked into the church. Would she be there? Would she be judging? Would the other people in the pews?
Then... a couple things happened. Father Youngin' told us he was in speech therapy as a kid. He said he understood why we can't use the parish school. (I cried! Someone who understands and doesn't judge!) The NICU Thanksgiving was written up in the local Catholic paper. As a result, the priests know us by name (not sure this is a good thing!). They've spoken to us about the work we do. And... we were written up the parish bulletin. We had NO IDEA the latter was coming. None. But... as a result... people now know why our family is like it is.We aren't the parents of undisciplined kids. Our son was a preemie. He has special needs. And we keep coming to Mass.
We've met several people who can't take their kids with special needs to Mass because they fear the judging. While I would like to say, "No one is judging you!" people do. They can. And I want Mass to be a judgement free zone.
Adam and I hate attention on ourselves for the work we do. Yet if it brings understanding to the issues at hand (premature babies, special needs) and helps people understand our family? Worth it.
I have an idea running through my head, an idea that may, I hope, bring hope to others. Catholic parents of kids with special needs need support and love. We need ideas and tips and tricks to help our children understand our faith and make their sacraments. We need to know we are not alone. We need each other. We need hope.
I hope and I pray that PEACE and HOPE and HEALING will be the themes for this year. So far, it's like the universe said, "You've taken a beating over the past year. Here, here's a cookie. Let's make this better."