There are times in all of our lives where we are looking for sanctuary – a safe, peaceful place. At this time of year, we all hear the story of Mary and Joseph looking for sanctuary – a safe, warm, peaceful place for Jesus to be born. Many of us moms are looking for just a few minutes of sanctuary where the crazy schedule and the multitude of demands upon us can be ignored in favor of a deep breath and a moment of peace.
Those of us with children with hidden disabilities are especially reminded this time of year that our children are seeking sanctuary from the chaos, unknown people & places, and unpredictable schedules. As much as this whirlwind season drives us “neurotypical” people crazy, that craziness is intensified in our children.
My 16 year old son, Daniel, (ADHD/ASD), has demonstrated that need for a peaceful place many times over the years and at this time of year in particular. Several years ago, at a family Christmas gathering out of town, we were spending two nights at a family member’s house. Daniel is used to having a place to retreat where things are quiet and safe and just like he wants them to be (a.k.a. his room or “man cave”). On this Christmas trip, there were so many people sleeping over that everyone was just grabbing a place to sleep on couches and recliners. There were absolutely NO rooms in the inn where he could retreat and be quiet and alone. So, while the games and music and video games were winding down late at night, Daniel decided to retreat to the bathroom for some quiet – to read and play his DS. This wasn’t a problem until everyone went to sleep and the master bedroom’s bath was behind closed doors for the night, leaving the bathroom that he was in as the only one for the rest of the crowded house. Unintentionally, Daniel fell asleep in there on the bathroom rug. Did I mention that he is a hard sleeper when he finally falls asleep? Needless to say, my husband wasn’t very happy when he had to go the bathroom in the middle of the night and found that the hall bathroom was locked, forcing him to go outside in the freezing cold! We have laughed over this story many times in the years since but there was no laughter that night (from my husband at least).
Since then, our extended family Christmases have been just as chaotic but Daniel has learned to stake out a place to call his own (sometimes behind a couch or in one of the free bedrooms) or we sometimes choose to only stay one night. Even on immediate family vacations to unfamiliar places, Daniel needs a sanctuary and often chooses a closet or extra bathroom or even his own room if there is one for him.
I hope we all can remember this Christmas season to take refuge and find sanctuary in the only true peaceful place – the person of Jesus Christ. I hope I can remember (along with all of you other busy parents of kids with hidden disabilites) to pray, focus on the Lord and his birth, take a deep breath and enjoy Christmas with our special Chosen Families.