There is a lot of talk around the blogosphere about choices. You only bring into your life what you ask for, etc.
And while I am as woowoo as the woowoo-est among us, and do generally prescribe to this theory, there is another part of me that says this is a crock of —-rubbish.
And that some people, who may have it a tad easier than some of us, often use this bon mot of wisdom to look down their noses at those of us who may not look like we have our s@&*# together. Yea, the view is pretty nice from the top. Mountain vistas usually are. Why don’t you come down here and join me for a day and see what the view is in the valley filled with jungle vines and no machete in sight?
I am going to talk about one area of my life where this karmic equation really bugs the you know what out of me, and no this will not be a rant, much as it looks like I am revving up to one.
I did not ask for one of my children to have a form of autism. There, I said it. Phew. It’s almost like I can breathe to admit it. But guess what? I reach this moment about 47 times every single day for the past thirteen and a half years. People have told me over the years that I shouldn’t think about that, but you know what? If I didn’t I’m not sure I could make it through any given day.
He did not ask to be born with a disorder that compromises everything about a ‘normal’ life.
We did not enter this life with each wanting to get into a verbal tangle over every little thing for him to accomplish from brushing teeth to doing homework. From sitting in his chair at dinner to making a consensus choice for family movie night that does not involve giant monsters or robots and might include a musical number or two and a princess. From wearing his winter coat on a 40 degree day to not wearing it on a 100 degree day.
I did not choose to have a child who did not choose his autism so that he could get bullied at school, on top of just trying to implement viable accommodations for his Individualized Education Plan. I did not choose to have a child who, when he has a normal cold, coughs so that it sounds and looks like he has tuberculosis, so school authorities will send him home over something a neurotypical kid would just deal with and not totally disrupt even the special ed class.
He did not choose to have to rage against an onslaught of sensory information every waking moment of his life.
I did not choose to have a son who could break my heart with his frustrations and suffering to communicate his needs , as well as blow my heart up bigger than I ever thought possible, every single moment of every day.
What I choose in the face of what Life DEALT me, and him, like it deals some other families cancer or cerebral palsy or Tourette’s, or severe allergies, or anything else, is to find what I can to enjoy in the midst of the mayhem of daily living.
I can choose, when things are at their most hectic and I really should just take that Saturday night once a month to go lie down and get a good night’s sleep, to instead be an hour and a half late to join my friends who also have children with special needs, so that we can laugh our faces off in the face of what we face everyday on our own.
Whether we have jobs, spouses, or anyone else to help, or other kids’ schedules to wrestle with, it often feels like the managing of every interaction, the assessing of where our children are and how to swing that response pendulum in a better direction – and it’s a wild one, let me tell you – is completely up to the parent who oversees functioning for that child.
For instance, today:
Last night I left laundry in a midway state when I went to bed. This morning I asked Captain Comic to please help (and occupy him so he would stop pacing around me trying to get me to look at something he wanted to show me online while I was trying to just have my coffee and check 75 emails before getting in the shower so that I could take him and his sister to a doctor appointment I couldn’t get for yesterday, which is taking me away from my writing group today, when he’d called me out of work to come get him at school because of the cough I mentioned earlier and I hadn’t even walked into the door of work at my recent re-employ yet yesterday) by moving the clothes from the washer to the dryer for me.
I did not specify for him to remove the clothes that were in the dryer before transferring the wash load there. I wondered briefly if I should let that important piece of information go or risk an argument for micromanaging my instructions to him. I also wondered if I should specify to put those clothes into a basket rather than dump them on the floor. I chose to risk them being dumped on the garage floor.
He came back in from the garage and Honey asked him where the dry load was.
“In the dryer.”
He merely added the wet clothes to the dry clothes and hit ON. We talked to him about that being too much and that he needed to remove the dry clothes from the dryer before adding the wet. Honey asked him to go back out there and remove the dry clothes please. He went out, came back in a few minutes later empty-handed.
Honey: Where’s the basket of dry clothes?
Captain Comic: What do you mean?
Honey: Where did you put the dry clothes?
(I was listening from the office to see how this would play out and seeing every step of this conversation before it happened)
Capt. Comic: Oh, in the garage.
Honey: Please bring it inside now.
Capt. Comic went out to retrieve the basket. Came struggling back in through the door with it, mightily. He was like Atlas must have acted as he lifted the world onto his shoulders just bringing the basket indoors.
Honey: [Captain Comic] Are the wet clothes in that basket, too?
Capt. Comic: Yes (in an of course tone, because this is what we asked, right?)
It goes on, but you can have a little taste. This is our normal. Every Day. Several times a day. And he wasn’t even arguing about our forcing him into Child Slave Labor over this one. He was being reasonably compliant!
And this is why my Mom’s Night Out is so important. Because this particular set of moms just gets these moments and understands and can laugh about it to help each other laugh it off. Because if we didn’t, this is a rough life.
They understand that I am not martyring by telling the story, I am not saying, oh poor me, I am just getting it out of my system, and am not looking for big puppy eyes or condescension or advice or anything else. This is just my IS. And my IS is pretty darned ridiculous. So I better be able to laugh.
Okay, the other thing is I brought him back to school after today’s doctor appointment. I really didn’t want to unstrap Toots from her car seat so she could commune with the fish tank as I sign him back in in the middle school office like I usually do. I called the secretary and told her. She said it was fine, she would watch for him. He’s rather well-known around that school. You can’t miss him. Unless he wants you to, so it’s best to keep an eye on him. And make sure someone does when I don’t. He walked in saying he didn’t really want to go back to school today. He walked to the front door in Super-Slo-Mo. If you remember the 1984 Summer Olympics, you know how slow that is.
The sky this morning was very grey, a wintery it’s gonna snow kind of sky, but a tad too warm for snow. A blue flash and orange flash crossed my field of vision. a twirl of an Eastern Blue Bird. It stopped on the No Parking Here sign and let out a song. I swear he was looking right at me. He was beautiful, he sounded beautiful and he was full of the promise of Spring.
Choosing Laughter, and Choosing to see these moments of beauty and soak them in are the choices I make to survive. And I choose several times a day to Love Captain Comic. I choose to love him when I have nothing left but to yell back. I choose to Love him because he is mine and needs so much more love and understanding than the rest of the world put together. I choose to love him because any other choice is immoral or illegal or both. I choose to love him because, even in the midst of all of this, no one loves back more when he can show it.
If you ever meet him, and your heart is true, you will be hug attacked. I promise. He will bowl you over and then he will make you laugh more than you thought possible.
I was reminded today of why I read and loved all of those 19th century Russian novelists in college. Tolstoy said it best:
Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.
I choose Love.