Last night, I had planned for over a month to go to a Women's Council meeting for church. I have the privilege of serving with the most wonderfully understanding, helpful ladies who understand that therapy schedules coupled with my husband's schedule plus the commute make it impossible for me to make the monthly meetings. This time, the one to kick off the semester, I planned to go.
Eric and Mom choreographed the kids' care so I could be out. It took a lot more than you'd think, just for me to leave at 6:30 to make the 7:30 meeting and be back by at 10:30. I kissed and hugged Richie and Maelynn, telling them to be sweet to Granny. As I walked to Ryan, he struck my heart.
"Mommy will come back!"
"Of course, Ryan. Mommy will always come back."
He smiled and went back to what he was doing. I kissed his sweet, soft hand and then signed and told him I loved him.
The same response. He started to sign it back to me (don't be impressed... it's the only one we use) and stopped short, repeating his first request that I come back.
I smiled, kissed his forehead, and kept going. The whole drive, I felt strange, somewhat like I was running away. Like I was shirking my responsibilities. I thought about turning around and coming home, then I remembered how hard Mother and Eric had worked to make sure I could go just this one time.
So I kept driving. Every mile was great. Busting a gut singing with the radio, even getting lost on the way to the friend's house where the meeting was, getting out of the car with only my own seatbelt to worry with... it was all great. The meeting was great too. We visited and caught up a bit at the beginning, then enjoyed going through each others' reports, helping solve a few logistical issues along the way. The ride home was easy, too.
This morning, the first thing I heard was the pangs of frustration.
Nothing was right. He couldn't handle reconstructing the bridge we made for his beloved trackmaster Thomas the night before. He wasn't calming down so that I could help. He didn't want any of the Thomas videos on Netflix, he wanted the ones they USED to have. So much hitting. So much yelling, grunting, screaming, and then turning quickly to "You want trackmaster Toby for your birthday!"
Eric and I both had rechecks for the heart screens we had done earlier this summer at the local clinic. While Eric was gone, the above prevailed. While I was gone, and longer than Eric by an hour, due to my blasted high blood pressure and asthma, Eric took the kids to swim, and all was well.
By then, I had a headache that only allowed me to walk around the house with my eyes closed. Excedrin, water, and a long sit on the couch turned into a nap while Maelynn napped and Richie and Ryan had their computer and iPad time, respectively.
Then it was on again. While his speech therapist was here, it was the worst. He put his hand flat on the table and pounded it with his other fist.
The only way I could get him to stop?
"Ryan, if you break your own hand, you don't get to ride the elevator at the hospital."
I'm not kidding. I wish I was kidding. I wish it was funny. It's not.
Once he stopped, he did his work for his speech therapist. No problem. I made the comment that it's been this way pretty much ever since I went out last night and to the doctor this morning.
Immediately, he turned, threw his arms around me, and hugged me. He nestled his sweet little face into my neck, patting my back. Already in the floor from trying to help him calm, he slid off his chair and into my lap. All smiles, all love and Ryan love-pats.
Maybe I was right.
The rest of the day was relatively easy. He played, he watched more Thomas with his brother and sister. There were a couple of fusses, but nothing like the rest of the day had been.
He missed me.
Part of me says that's silly. No way. Yes, he missed me, but why would he be so worked up about that? It sure seemed that he calmed down as soon as he knew that I got the message. "I missed you, Mom. It bothers me when you're not home. Could you stay the rest of the day? Thanks. It's hard when you're gone and I'm home."
The other kids met me this morning with "Moooommmmyyyyyy!!!" And "I'm so glad you're back! I missed you last night!"
Ryan met me with screaming. Grunting. Hitting his own chest until it was red.
I have no idea what to draw from this. I know that it's significant. I know that this kid loves me. I know that he needs me around. On the other hand, I know I have to do me-things every now and again. I know it sounds silly, but this meeting was a big treat for me. The ladies I serve with are, like I said earlier, pretty great. And it's great for the overachiever in me to know that I went to the meeting this month, and we accomplished so much.
Now? I'm back home. I'm not sorry I went; I'm still sad he was upset.
You know what? Maybe sometimes the lesson that is in what happens is just that. It's what happens.
This is life. We do our best, we try, we mess up. The things that we think are best are hard on us and the kids sometimes. And this kind of hard-on-the-kids is pretty extreme.
But it is what it is. I'm glad my boy loves me; I'm also glad he finds comfort in his mama. One of the greatest challenges we face is embracing that life is what it is. The meeting is a great treat for me. It's okay if it was just another thing on the to-do list of the other ladies. Changes in routine are rough for our boy, and there will be times that it's hard for him to recover. And that's okay too. We have to work on the self-injurious behaviors (SIB's to some), and continue to be creative.
And in the process, we remember that not only is he fearfully and wonderfully made, but so are we. We're given the same grace and mercy, though we're prone to wander. Or is that just me?
Thanks be to God who loves me through my meltdowns, frustrations, and turns-on-a-dime of emotion.