So it's kind of like a kick in the teeth when, just like the wobbly six year old just learning to ride a bike, you are just mastering this new skill when you seem to keep riding into the proverbial brick wall.
|Flickr "Creative Commons" photo by David DeHetre|
You see, I AM getting better at saying no, knowing my limits, pacing myself (honest!) and only taking on what I can deal with - beyond the usual essential stuff I sometimes feel I can't. (But that's another story...) I am still happy to help, but will say when I can't. I think people genuinely respect you more for being honest, and certainly my stress levels are hugely grateful for this belated maturity in self-expectation. So it is a bit of a shock when an honest "no" is met with "Really? Are you sure?!". Because it is at *least* twice as hard to say no again. You start to question your (new) inner strength and decision making process - are you indeed completely sure that you can't do x, y or z? And it you are not, shouldn't you just say yes?
But at what cost?
We are currently drowning in appointments. I think the NHS has collectively decided that there has been far too much of a post-Christmas "lull" in my life, just as I was beginning to feel everything was surprisingly manageable. So last week a steady stream of appointments for three of the children started arriving though our door.
To be honest, many are routine and you would think there would be little difficulty postponing the non essential ones to avoid a) the children missing too much school on consecutive days b) your juggling skills failing epically and you forget something vital or c) the wine and coffee bill doesn't stretch that far in a single month. And postponing gives someone else the chance to jump the queue, right?
Last summer we waited SIXTEEN weeks for H to receive a replacement pair of SMAFOs /splints which are essential for him to be able to do more than hobble about. He lost mobility and tone, and despite the new splints we have yet to regain the same level of either. I would have seized the opportunity for a cancellation appointment had one arisen. The orthotics department here is stretched to the limit, in desperation we nearly took him privately to Leicester last year but would then be "opting out" of the system - and at £500 per pair of SMAFOs (usually replaced once or twice a year ) this really isn't an option.
Since then, H has had the mother-of-all-growth-spurts and has nearly outgrown his current splints, so we have been appropriately re-referred for a new pair to be cast. He *is* at the end of his current ones, but not completely outgrown them, and unlike the last pair they are not broken but completely robust. So calling to postpone the appointment because it clashed with another child's appointment at GOSH which WAS pretty urgent seemed sensible.
"Mrs Thompson, are you sure you can't make the appointment?"Um. YES. And I am pretty certain I thought things through before picking up the 'phone.
But nevertheless that shadow of self doubt crept over me as I wobbled on the proverbial bike. I had thought I was doing pretty well at this prioritising lark. Focussing on the essentials, survival with sanity intact - that sort of strategy you have to employ when quite frankly only cloning could help achieve a different outcome.
"Is there no one else who could bring him? Surely?"But that's just IT. There IS only me, and a wonderful other half who works at home when he can to facilitate the essentials, but I don't have a queue of volunteers waiting to help out! And it's a circular problem - this Special Needs parenting lark is a pretty lonely life at times, you don't build up a long list of friends and volunteers who can help - because life is too complicated. You are unreliable, can rarely offer to help out in return however much you want to say yes, you can't work, can't socialise more than the odd (HUGELY important cup of coffee) and certainly don't know many of your children's friends' parents. (Actually, they don't have many friends, for the same reason as above but that, too is another story...)
So YES. I'm sure. I can't make it. And that's OK. It has to be. And no one is going to drop dead, miss out, go hungry, cold or be otherwise in need because I said