It was 12:30 in the morning and I was lying in bed, wide awake. I had managed to fall asleep for a few minutes but for some reason woke up. Sleep did not come, so I finally went downstairs, made a cup of tea, went into my home office and got to work. I knew I would likely be worthless the next day, after not sleeping, so I reasoned that I should get a jump on my goals to compensate for that.
At 4 am, I finally pulled myself away from my desk and headed to bed, while I braced myself for the official start of the day that would be coming shortly. The morning’s coffee would need to be stronger than normal.
When I got up, I took the dogs on a little walk, drank my first cup of coffee and read the Bible. The grogginess cleared and negativity took its place. I found myself not engaging in conversation with my boys, being controlling over dumb things and over-reacting to little things.
I was downright surly and didn’t even want to be around myself. Can you relate? It would have been easy for me to justify my attitude and actions to myself by blaming it on lack of sleep and stress over the work that needed to be done but those would have just been excuses.
At a particularly ugly point, I finally stepped back. I sat down in a chair, prayed and just breathed. As I prayed, I confessed my negativity and lack of lovingness and asked for help. I thought through my attitude and the circumstances around it.
It wasn’t a long break. In fact, I didn’t even leave the room but it made a world of difference in my perspective and how I treated those around me. It was like I had taken a refreshing shower after working outside on a hot day. I was still tired and I still had a lot of work I needed to accomplish, but this time breathed life into me for the rest of the day and I no longer felt like that surly bear who no one wanted to bump into.
Lack of sleep is pretty common for those of us who have children impacted by disability. Stressful days are often the norm as well. It can be hard to stay positive throughout the day as we interact with therapists, teachers, doctors and, most importantly, our families. It can be easy for our speech to become short and have a bite to it as opposed to filled with grace and love.
In those times, taking a step back to pray, reflect, and breathe can be the perfect answer. The therapist, IEP meetings, doctor, and kids will still be there, but this time may give you the chance that you need to refocus and refresh.
After my break, I sucked up my pride and apologized to the boys. The atmosphere in the house changed from nervousness and timidity to a place where everyone wanted to be.
What helps you to refocus when you are exhausted, overwhelmed and stressed with life?
Jonathan McGuire is the father of two sons and the co-founder of Hope Anew, a nonprofit that comes alongside the parents of children impacted by disability on a spiritual and emotional level. You can follow Hope Anew on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/hopeinthetrenches/.