...there was the first post. It was composed on a particularly frustrating day of mothering, mostly of a child with autism.
Today was a day when I look up in frustration and say, "Really?! Seriously?!" My Ryan, our almost five year old who has autism, started screaming pretty much as soon as he got home from school. He walked in the door, asked for his mallets ("want your mawwets?"), and soon after asked to watch his favorite video at the moment. As usual, I take his "mawwets" off the entertainment center and hold them out, reminding him to use the magic words every mother teaches their children to use. He bops off contentedly, waving his treasures in the air as I start his video. The video comes on, and after skipping past the usual previews, I take off for the kitchen knowing that the kids are happy. A few minutes later, here comes Ryan. "Want some banana, " he says. So I give him a peeled half of banana and he happily trots off to the living room. Couple minutes pass, and he returns, this time with "putcha poop inya pants". Okay, not unusual, we go to the bathroom. In the midst of our bathroom experience, Ryan asks for ice cream. Trying to be positive, I respond with my usual answer... that he can have ice cream if he eats all his dinner. Sounds reasonable, right? Not to Ryan. He screams in my face.
Now, most moms would yank their kids up and make sure they learned a lesson in what ever way they're fond. I respond to Ryan with my usual (mostly pseudo-) calm request that he calm down. After finishing our trip to the bathroom, Ryan still can't stop screaming, so I tell him to finish his fit in his room and head off to the kitchen, stopping to turn off the video on the way. Upon discovering that his video is off, Ryan starts asking for it over and over, but not in the same room as me... and screaming before I can even get in the room to meet his request. So no video. Ugh. There goes calm time. I try calmly explaining why I won't/can't turn on the video, but he just screams. Okay, back to your room. Please calm down and come out when you can stop screaming. This is pretty much the entire rest of the next hour.
When I say screaming, I mean bloody-murder, someone's-cutting-off-my-arm screaming. Shrill, oh my WORD his throat has to hurt screaming. This time it only lasted an hour. After about thirty minutes I was struggling to keep my cool, so I call on my friends, using one of my Facebook (one of my favorite mommy tools). I ask for prayer, not just for me, but for my Ryan and for Richie, my sweet 23 month old who just got his feelings hurt when his hero screamed at him simply for walking in the room they share. They join me in asking for patience, love, joy, and peace to share with my Ryan's little troubled soul.
By the time my amazing husband walks in the door tired from his own day, I'm like that Pink Floyd song... comfortably numb. That sounds bad, but it's a gift. See, I need to be a rock for my boys and my princess. Remember that I have a 23 month old son and a 3 month old daughter in addition to this confused, precious little guy. I don't want to be remembered as a "rageaholic". As the daughter of someone who couldn't control his temper (drunk or sober), the last thing I want is for my kids to see me as something scary. So the numbness is a defense... it's a gift from the Lord to allow me to be calm and comforting to one child and then turn to the next and read a book and tickle his feet. Then turn to the next and nurse, hold, smooch and coo. Not that I don't feel anything, that's not it. Numb to the fear that gives birth to anger that gives birth to rage... yet able to feel the warmth and sparkle of my children's smiles and happy eyes.
The peace that passes understanding.
The peace that rises above the feelings, because emotions aren't terribly reliable.
The peace that the Lord gives me makes my life so much more liveable. Not survivable. LIVE-able. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't feel the frustration and fear and all those negative things that come along with parenting. I most definitely feel them, and at times (like this afternoon) I'm nearly leveled by them. But I'm not. I'm struck down, but not destroyed. Persecuted, but not abandoned. As I step back and look at my relationship with Ryan, I realize that my need to be a calm, peaceful rock for my boy is much more important that just teaching him to not throw fits and be demanding. It is key to teaching all my children how God loves me, because He does! He puts up with my screaming fits when I don't understand what He's saying, or trying to get me to do, or... the big one... WHY. Oh, and I do ask that one.
To tell the truth, I kick and scream more than Ryan. I know enough of God's Word to know what He expects, yet I consistently do just the opposite. But when I cry out in the middle of the night, He still answers. He still grants me that peace. He still holds me in His arms and gives me rest. He still gives me His words of comfort through not only His Word but through friends and other loved ones. He meets my needs and then some... more than I could imagine... consistently.
So thank you. Thank you, Lord, for loving me even through my fits. Thank you, friends, for allowing Him to love me through your smiles and shared laughs! I am thankful, tonight, not just for my sweet family and friends, but for a Savior who loves me and is my rock, and never tires of my cries and requests. Remember, friend... He's never tired or yours, either.
Thanks for walking this first step of the journey.