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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey

The Special Needs of Mothers

By Karen Schweiger

Some people compare the journey of life to that of a roller coaster. Personally, especially as the mother of a special needs child, I equate the experience to that of the ebb and flow of the ocean’s tides.

On the best of days, the tide gently washes over the sand, rhythmic and serene. It’s easy to relax and savor the warmth of the sun, let your heart dance with the laughter surrounding you, allowing it to nourish and replenish you, heart and soul.

There are days, though, when you know a storm is brewing, its arrival foretold with the restlessness of the tide, whitecaps alluding to rougher waters ahead. During these times, you can still enjoy the beauty and grace of the ocean, even delight in the excitement of the unknown and the feeling of accomplishment when you survive these precursors to the storm.

Then there are those times when you look out into the distance and cannot even discern the horizon, the line of which has disappeared among the darkest of storm clouds. You know in your very soul this will be no ordinary storm. Oh no. Mother Nature is about to unleash the Kraken and you, my dear, know that you’ll be lucky to survive the day, barely able to keep your head above the waves that will no doubt crash down upon you mercilessly.

Instinct might dictate that you turn and run, but you cannot ... you’re a mother. We don’t run. We don’t hide. We batten down the hatches and prepare to ride out the storm, knowing we’re going to be slammed against the rocks, our very souls possibly shredded by the jagged edges of the specter of mental and/or physical illnesses, hoping there’s enough left of us afterwards to allow us to pull ourselves together, muster the strength to rebuild and prepare for the next storm. There’s always another storm. And so it goes.

During the most tumultuous years – the teen years – there were times I felt painfully alone and isolated; overwhelmed with the fear that we were in over our heads, praying we’d be rescued or perhaps simply wash up on gentler shores.

During a conversation with a now dear friend, I shared with her those feelings of isolation and loneliness. What I wouldn’t have given to have been seen ... to have had my voice heard ... to have felt as if I was not so alone … to know, too, that I mattered.

What a gift it would have been to have been held in a safe space, to have had the option to choose whether or not to let loose tears of frustration and secret fears, or to have had the choice to let myself get lost in the company of sympathetic being, being nurtured and savoring the connection that would have been a welcome balm to my battered soul.

When my friend echoed an acknowledgment of just how vital that would have been for her at a similar time, I had an epiphany. As a professional Cuddlist, I would be in a position to do just that—to offer understanding, compassion and sanctuary to those storm weary mothers and caregivers of special needs children and/or adults.

Of the many alternative care modalities one can pursue, touch therapy has proven to be a pioneering phenomenon. Even a gentle touch releases the hormone “oxytocin” – the feel-good hormone – which helps relieve stress, lessen anxiety, depression and creates a sense of happiness and well-being. Therapeutic cuddling combines the immersive comforts of physical touch with the benefits of a one-on-one mindful connection in a safe, judgment-free space.

My path toward this modality of healing began decades ago and has been influenced by many circumstances, but the remarkable journey of motherhood holds the most special place in my heart and intent.

Karen Schweiger, owner of In Your Arms, has over 25 years of experience in the customer care industry and is a certified, professional cuddlist. As a Mother’s Day gift  to all moms, Karen is offering a May Special of two hours of unadulterated connection and relaxation for $100. Gift certificates and in-home visits are available. 908-768-1800. [email protected]. See ad on page 12. 

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