“My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Psalm 73:26
There are a thousand and one reasons to be thankful for this little nibble of scripture. For most of my life, I've seen this with the words "flesh" and "heart" and thought, well, my body does fail. We will all die. We all get sick. But today, oh today... the day after yesterday, this verse is like a warm embrace... the exhausted, collapse in a heap into my husband's arms kind of embrace. The kind where your mother would stroke your hair and tell you it's all going to be okay as the tears spilled over your cheeks.
Because my flesh fails.
I get tired.
I get angry.
I get frustrated.
I don't know what to do.
I don't know how to help.
I could only keep him from hurting himself. Nothing I said was right. Nothing I did was soothing. Nothing.
We had a major meltdown kid of day yesterday. First, he did great in CE, but toward the end as they often do, he worked a puzzle. Well, all except for one piece. One blasted piece. He had to finish. His CE teachers tried so hard to find the piece, to gently convince him that it's okay, and when they'd exhausted what they could do, they came to get me. I held him in the floor. He kicked, hit himself in he head, hit a little at me... but with their patience and help in turning off lights, turning on soothing music, he calmed. We went to the service, and he was great. No big deal. His usual little echolalic sayings, bubbling over into the days of the week, months of the year, annoucing "February 2010" a couple of times, which I think is funny because it's when his sister was born.
Then after church, we were to have a little reception and meeting with an elder as part of joining the church.
Brownies on the table.
He had one, simply because they were there, and he grabbed one before I could stop him. Then wanted another.
I said no.
Daddy said no.
It was on like Donkey Kong.
He screamed, kicked, hit, and all I could do was keep him from hurting himself. He is getting so big, so strong, that I almost couldn't do it. Yes, I could have sent someone fro my husband, but you know what? I have to be able to do this. If I ask for Eric every time it gets hard, what am I going to do on the many, many days he's just not here?
Three times we tried to go back in. At least three, anyway. After the second or third, I just couldn't take any more. My voice became shaky as I fought back tears. The biggest hurt was that I could do nothing to calm him. I feared I'd hurt him trying to keep him from hurting himself. I'd honestly rather he hit me.
The second hurt?
It was largely my fault. I hadn't prepared him. I felt so stupid for not social-storying this to death. We got out of church, and he expected to either go grab some lunch and go home, or get to "go see new friends" as he calls our community group. He had no idea why he was ushered past the exit and past a plate of brownies and into another room, told to sit, and without lunch.
COMPLETE FACEPALM. Autism-mama facepalm. I fell flat on my puzzle-piece wearing, advocating face. This was unarguably a meltdown, this was not a fit-over-a-brownie tantrum. The brownie was simply the pin out of the grenade.
My flesh failed.
It failed me, failed Ryan, and all the people having to listen to the whole ordeal.
But then there's grace...
A sweet friend brought him water, and offered to do anything she could, and was met with tears spilling over the dam I desperately tried to hold.
Another member walked by, offering his encouragement to me.
Even another came up and talked to Ryan, although he didn't acknowledge her at all.
The elder we were supposed to meet with was merciful and gracious, asking just the little he had to ask, and offering a smile and empathy.
Countless others simply treated us as people. Ah, how lovely.
One of his teachers sent an affirming, heartwarming, encouraging Facebook message to Eric and I that we found when we got home.
His CE teachers were precious, offering encouragement to him and to us, never frustrated with him but frustrated FOR him, always eager to help in a gracious manner, and oh, are they ever a blessing.
I did not find judgment for having failed. I found encouragement, mercy, grace, and even thanksgiving that we were there at all.
I learned and cemented many a lesson yesterday, not the least of which was that Ryan needs me to prepare him better, and that I need to remember that our normal is to overthink it all. Over plan, then be ready to throw it all out the window at the last minute. If I ever figure out how... if I ever master it... if I ever manage to completely grease the way for him without giving up life the way we believe we're supposed to live, I'm not going to let you know.
That's right. I'm not going to tell you how it's done. I'm going to, if I have the chance, hold your hand, bring your flailing, sweaty, spent child a cup of water, offer to do what I can, and listen.