Talking with Dennis Rainey About Parenting, Faith, and Down SyndromeHow a trip to Arkansas helped me get my life together... (plus an interview in two parts about parenting, disability, and faith)Amy Julia Becker
In November, I flew to Little Rock, Arkansas. It took all day to get there, between a two-hour drive to the airport and no direct flights from Hartford to Little Rock. I spent about four hours with Bob and Dennis and Jennifer, between getting to the studios and having lunch and recording our interview. (As an aside to the story I'm about to tell, the interview experience itself was refreshing and encouraging. I loved meeting Jennifer and hearing her story, and I was particularly grateful for Bob's and Dennis' ministry to parents and families. Both men were marked by kindness and strength.) Even though our interviews wrapped up mid-afternoon, I couldn't catch a flight home until the next morning. All of this amounted to me being away from home for about 54 hours. And 50 of those hours were all by myself.
I slept a lot. I took a walk. I ran on the hotel's treadmill. I called a friend. I ordered room service. I read the Bible. I prayed. And I wrote and wrote and wrote, for what felt like the first time in months. I remembered that I tend to score as an "introvert" on personality tests, which means that time alone gives me energy and motivation.
I came back from those days away with unbelievable gratitude for the gift of those hours holed up inside an Embassy Suites hotel room. It helped me realize that much as I wanted to sacrifice my "own" desires and simply serve my family, I had to continue to write and think and speak. It's been a slower year for me on all those fronts, but I came back from that time away determined to take one day a week for writing, and I'm very grateful for the gift of a new babysitter who has been a literal godsend to our whole family. In these intervening months, I've loved the chance to write. Perhaps even more importantly, I have been so much kinder to my children since I've given myself permission to write consistently. And they seem to be doing just fine. Fewer fights with William. Plenty of time with each of them. Even an increasing amount of laughter.