I have friends with special needs children who have been more blessed than they could have ever imagined by these amazing souls, simple and close to God. I can clearly see how any of us who care for those weaker around us makes us all less selfish and closer to the people we are supposed to be. (And, yes, that definitely counts all "regular" parents--sometimes that is the very hardest thing to do!)
That being said, things certainly do change perspective for a person when she shifts from being the care giver to the care receiver. It is much easier to be the strong one, caring for your family, in control of your own life. When you are suddenly the resource sucker you may find yourself slowing down a bit to contemplate and reconfigure your value in this whole equation!
So, that is what I have done. Reconfigured my value a bit for the time being, and I'm finding, like anything, that's not such a bad thing...it just depends on how you look at it.
At the moment, I sleep and eat, am given my meds regularly by those caring for me, and get driven to medical appointments. Not a lot of value in that on the surface to be sure. In addition, my friends and family are taking care of my seven children, including all things relating to start of school and the football/cheer season (no small amount of details there) and the mountains of food and laundry that go with a family of nine. I cannot be left alone right now, so this takes several people on any given day. I never imagined when I had seven children that I would be unable to care for them myself before they were grown. Humbling to be sure.
On the bright side, however, I have never been more available (snoozing aside) to listen to them read to me, or take a nap right alongside Natalie. They know just where to find me when they want to tell me about something that happened to them. And they are having a ball holding tea parties in my honor and bringing me food trays that I am not too busy to receive and participate in. For perhaps the first time in their lives I am a more or less captive audience to them (again, snoozing aside) and I am loving their visits throughout the day. Definitely value in that.
There is also a great deal of value in my having to get out of the way and let my children do some things for themselves. This month they have all learned new skills in the kitchen and laundry, and Natalie even potty trained and learned to swim across the pool with so many adults around watching and helping. How wonderful!
Best of all, though, is the quiet, contemplative time I have now (when I can stay awake, that is) to pray or read or think about things I could not fit in my brain before. Nothing I'm going to change the world with here, but time that I think will change me and my perspectives on life for the better. Time that has me plotting how to be a better, more charitable person when I make it through this difficult time. Good stuff, to be sure.
So, when you see me now, formerly strong and now so weak, do not pity me or feel uncomfortable or unsure of what to say. I am still me, 100%, inside this hopefully temporarily failing body. I am still contributing in my own way. I am here to smile at my children and hear about my husband's day, and to pray for any intentions you may have as well. So let me know what they are!
It is very tempting to imagine, especially in our work-valued society (and indeed we ARE meant to work as humans, work is good and right for us) that once we cannot work we are useless. But if allow ourselves, our non-working times can be our time to become the decorations in the hallways of those still working so hard to enjoy.