Thursday 30 June 2016


There's something about caring for a child with disabilities that takes the "red" out of "hot" in the marital bed.  The arrival of a baby, healthy or not, can often put a damper on sex in the city.  I remember comparing notes with other young Mums when my kids were brand new - so much nursing and cuddling and living through the needs of a tiny, totally vulnerable person has that effect.  Perhaps it's just nature's way of helping parents keep staring at their vulnerable charge like a biological safety measure to ensure the next feed and change.

But what happens when the needs of that vulnerable charge never really diminish?  We keep our parental eye firmly fixed on our son or daughter with disabilities... we keep them safe.  So, what does it take to keep the romantic fires alight?  I would say that it requires a decision - a decision to look away from your child for a few minutes and look at your partner.  It's difficult, especially when looking only at your child becomes a habit - a habit that eventually feels like necessary breathing.

And TIME is the enemy here.  Most parents of children with disabilities have no respite, especially if their child is complex.  One couple I know who run a home hospital for their 42 year old son have not been out to dinner since 1997.  They cannot trust others to look after their precious son - his care would tax even a well-staffed, state of the art medical facility.

Some couples will have to muster lots of determination to make that decision to remain close.  Many will have to create complicated puzzles for respite plans, however brief.  But once the decision is made to have some physical contact with a partner, the decision is there - it becomes real.  Hands will be held, necks will be stroked, hugs have a chance of leading to something closer.

It takes courage to turn away from a special needs child, even for a minute.  But a little planning to ensure the best safety measures possible for a break of fifteen minutes or a weekend away can make a mother and a father into a couple.

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