Mothers’ Programs Offer Needed Respite, Care, Friendship

Dedicated retreats and events help mothers weather the non-stop stress of parenting an ill child.

Dedicated retreats and events help mothers weather the non-stop stress of parenting an ill child.*
*Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Faye R. was in a constant state of exhaustion. There simply weren’t enough hours in the day to care for a child with a chronic illness. When her daughter Rachel was well enough to go to school, the after-school hours brought an endless round of physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Medications and special food requirements took hours to fulfill. Illness meant trips to the doctor or even hospitalization. Rachel’s three siblings needed attention and care, too.

“After a while, I didn’t even have words to describe it anymore,” she lamented.

Even so, when her Chai Lifeline case manager invited her to an overnight respite for mothers, Faye wondered how she could leave her family for 24 hours. Who would do everything she did every single day? When she mentioned it to her husband, his face brightened.

“What a great idea! A little vacation for you. We’ll figure out how to make it work,” he said.

That’s how Faye found herself with four dozen other mothers last month at Chai Lifeline’s Moms Getaway in Toms River. Instead of worrying about everyone else, Faye luxuriated in crafts workshops, ate luxurious and leisurely meals (that someone else prepared and cleaned up!), enjoyed her first manicure in more years than she could remember, and commiserated with other mothers about the difficulties and joys of raising a child who is ill.

“It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and isolated. This one day away gave me friendship and strength to go on,” Faye said.

The Moms Overnight was only one of Chai Lifeline’s many programs that offer support, friendship, rest, and most important, rejuvenation to mothers, who are often add 24/7 caregiving to their already busy lives when a child has a serious illness. All our regions regularly bring mothers together for friendship and peer support. On the West Coast, the annual Marilyn Sohacheski Spa Day encourages mothers to breathe (during yoga and other exercise sessions) and pampers them with healthy cuisine and spa services. In the Southeast, a Women’s Wellness event, hosted by the Trump family, has become an important day on the community calendar, and the day reserved for pampering is eagerly awaited by clients. Chai Lifeline Midwest has held spa days and overnight events, which one mom described as a wonderful chance to “be with people and also be with myself.” The New Jersey region has held moms’ events in different areas of the state to accommodate the diversity of the region. This year the Mid-Atlantic Region, the newest of Chai Lifeline’s offices, brought mothers together for a Sip and Paint night at a local studio. Activities like this are also on the calendars of our international affiliates.

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