4th and long…
For the last 15 plus years, my life has been Vision Therapy. It’s been, in one capacity or another, a means for helping others through this wonderful craft. From third graders to third generation patients, the wonders of VT never cease to amaze me. For much of that time, I’ve also been a parent. My daughter was born in 2002, my son in 2005, and the parallels between good Vision Therapy and good parenting are pretty incredible. Sadly, for the last five years, I’ve also identified with a specific type of parent:
The single kind.
I went through divorce in 2010, and although it was a painful process, all parties involved have come to realize that the separation was the best thing we could have done. There was anger, there was pain, there was resentment, and there was not much space for anything else. In fact, it was so bad that by the time all the dust had settled, it took me over two years just to feel normal again. True story.
Like it or not, divorce will find it’s way into our VT rooms. There will be times when we become the referee between parents, times when we become a shoulder to lean on for the kids, and times when our adult patients just need to vent; and so we listen. Although not a desirable spot to be in, often times releasing the emotional baggage of the day to a safe place opens all sorts of doors for change. In other words, when you work with people, these types of things just come with the territory. From my own experience, I can share that some of the more obscure conversations with the most random people usually offered the greatest opportunity for growth. For me, pain and growth became a double-edged sword; the road was painful, and the personal growth exponential.
The reason I bring all this to light is pretty simple, and that is to applaud all of my fellow single parents. I’ve been perusing the parent support groups and talking to some of the single parents in our office and came to realize that some of them, many of them, are just like me. Or perhaps better stated, suffer from the same challenges. It’s easy for us, as Vision Therapists, to discuss home activities. It’s easy to make requests like “20 minutes of daily home VT” and “remember to bring your home supplies to each visit”. For those of us who understand the importance of these tasks, the requests seems benign. Easy, right? But when you factor in the rare extra-curricular activity, the hour and a half of homework per child, the dinner rituals, bath time, occasional stop at the grocery store, and a valiant attempt of trying to spend a little quality time with your kids – in my house, we lay on their beds at bedtime and discuss our days – 20 minutes of VT becomes not so benign; it becomes a chore. As a single parent with two kids, sometimes just the day-to-day activities become overwhelming to manage on my own. So when single parents tell me that they are struggling to incorporate their assigned home activities into their daily lives, I get it. I really do.
Good vision therapy prides itself on flexibility, on working through challenges with broad thinking and adaptive concepts, and on improving lives. Those tend to be the cornerstones of our success. At times it can be tough to remember, when seated on our side of the table, that those same principles need be applied in our approach to the out-of-office portions of our patient care. It never hurts to remind us that for most single parents, sometimes making it through the day becomes the priority, and there’s not much room for anything else.
So a BIG kudos to all my fellow single parents for all you do – during, and away from, Vision Therapy. Try to remember that when facing a 4th and long, sometimes the best thing you can do is punt, and try again the next time you have the ball.