Today I managed to survive a conference call, take my tribe to the homeschool park day and also to Orchestra. Doesn’t sound impressive? Keep in mind that orchestra requires 5 music stands and 5 violins to be taken to the car, transported, and relocated to a classroom through hallways lined with the distraction of friends! It also includes assisting my 5-year-old non-reader and 8-year-old autistic son through the hour. I signed up to learn alongside them, but my own violin has still never made it out of the case. Continue reading “OOTD: Iron Chef Prairie Girl Meets Her Inner Yoda”
Last week was one of those. A week that sapped us of sleep, and strength. Of two cars with issues that drained the bank, just like they did last month. Of many things broken in this house.
My mug, known by all as an extension of my arm and used every day.
My mug, this week. Followed by my favorite tea cup and my grandmother’s porcelain ash tray. All in a week.
I sighed, I felt disappointment… deeply struggled with the inner beast… but no children were broken and that is something, if you consider how close I was to edge of my walk in grace. That fine line where the sidewalk ends in this walk with my Guide. Sometimes, he’s just gonna have to carry me, because I can’t take a step.
I teetered on the edge for a minute there, but I took a deep breath. I’ve been here before more times than I could ever recall enough detail to relate to you. It’s that often. I can scream with the best of them. I can stomp and slam doors and rage to high heaven. I have, and sometimes I do, but I’m finding that it’s not as often anymore and that this grace that is said to be sufficient… it actually is if you let it be. I wonder how I got to the place where suddenly I’m choosing grace over rage more often than not. Especially when current circumstances would predict otherwise, based on past experiences and outbursts from my inner godzilla.
I suppose it could be a phase. It could be my constant expose to the need for it, and the scarred knees from falling over and getting back up, over, and over, and over, and…
I think, like many of my other blog posts will tell you, God likes to teach me how not to lose my **IT** by giving me many opportunities. Hundreds of them. Could it be that I’m finally getting the message?
Here are a few things I’ve learned in my battle between choosing a saving of Grace or a losing of **IT**.
1. WHEN I RAGE AGAINST THE GRACE. The rage does not heal and it does not put back together my pieces of broken things…the mug I love and the heirloom that I never used anyway. It was beautiful and special, but what need to I REALLY have for my grandmother’s ash tray? No, crossing the line won’t bring the things back. Any of the things. It simply breaks and bends more things around me, and the next in line tends to be my children.
2. BE PREPARED, IT WILL KEEP HAPPENING. I, alone, choose my focus, to be aware of where I am and who I am to them. To accept the truth that it is not a question of IF I will ever be on the edge of losing it again, but WHEN. We have to stop crossing our fingers and hoping for days where we are not tested. Let’s simply agree to accept as fact that we will be. We should even PREDICT that today we will be, and the real question is which way we will step. After it all, I know what happens when I cross over from this field of grace to the release of anger. The grass is not greener on the other side. Sure, there is some bizarre feeling of release in that short moment of Losing **IT** that I can try to convince myself feels “good” to let go of. It’s not good. It creates a wasteland in tiny hearts around me. Angry, selfish parenting…making our children’s mistakes and struggles about US and our day is self-centered and excludes their needs. This is THEIR day, too. I do not own it.
3. I CAN’T CHOOSE THEIR OUTCOME. My kids are individuals, who also choose their own opinion and response to my behavior. I can not guarantee that they will not reach adulthood feeling cracked and warped from being in our care. I do not choose to parent with Grace in hopes of creating perfectly behaved little people and adults that will give me a great reputation. I do it to give them an example of giving in, of choosing grace even when you don’t want to. Their perception of their childhood is their own and I can’t control how they process our moments together, the good or the bad. Many a child has felt wounds from parents who struggled to be their best but all are human and all fail. I can’t choose their reaction to us. That is theirs. I just want to be by their side in their life, which is where God has put me. Just what I asked for!!! And how I treat them will dictate how these children will trust me and want me beside them in the future, when it become THIER choice to call me…or not. Their future decisions about me start with how I care for them now. Their future decisions on when to run to grace and when to lose their own **IT** will conjure up memories of a mom. What do I want them to remember?
4. I CAN’T CHOSE CIRCUMSTANCES, BUT MY RESPONSE IS MY CHOICE. And that’s good because some of our current circumstances are much less than I had hoped. I still have my choice. I choose my actions, right now. I can refuse to cross over when I know I’m there at the edge of control, the steam rising before my eyes. When I have that split second of awareness, that moment of saving grace or losing my **IT**. A still small voice says “breathe”, but do I want to stomp my foot and scream “No!”? That point of no return where I either “Hulk” their mom before their eyes and turn green in the face, or fall back onto grace that will save me from myself and what that ability to rage inside me is capable of. Dear God, why did you have to make it so easy to go green? Moms would be so much better with your kids if you made us a little more Stepford. Just kidding. Thank you SO MUCH for not making me a Stepford!
5. I AM NOT THE **IT**, IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ME. Last week wore on more than just me. Each day had it’s something for him. Husband flew away and flew back. Locked keys in the car and had to walk miles. He worked late every night except for the night that his car gave us fits and I had to drive across town to get him. That was his only “early” night at 9:30pm. Then the weekend came with no rest but side jobs to fill in for those ends that aren’t meeting at the end of this month. Then the man had hours upon hours of working on the cars and fixing his wife’s laptop so that she can write and share our the innermost whatever of our lives. This man is amazing. How did he happen to me? He wears shoes like this to work on the cars. I find myself in a lack of content because I haven’t got the color I want my shoes to be. Dumb woman. I want my eyes open. I’m only alone in this when I close them to these things.
And after all of that, a week filled with so much struggle, it was also the most filled with grace and a surrounding of prayer and precious moments with children. I was filled with utter shock, to be honest, and then joy at how often I found myself turning away from the edge of hysteria and losing of **IT**. I did it! I found it! I may not always, but I feel strength for tomorrow from what I accomplished in my heart last week. Looking back, I wonder, did I really make it through without one outburst?
I’ll take it, but I’m not applying for any awards ceremonies. Because that was just one week. Now there’s this one and I’m not one to take bets on the future. Just taking each day as it comes, thank you very much.
This morning, things were sailing along smoothly, for a Monday. All were fed and dressed with bags packed and lunches made for our two out-of-home-schoolers. The homeschoolers were ready to begin. It’s a new week and the last one is behind me. Then after we settle in, husband walks back in the front door with the 7 year old. Ladies, toddlers aren’t the only ones who wait until the last minute to go in their diaper and make you late. For those of us who are still in this diaper business with older kids….**IT** still happens. So, there I stood once again. He will be late for school, again. So will his sister. Because of a load of **IT**. And I’m not feeling the extreme edge of anger that I could, but I know this is another of those crossover moments. Mondays are already hard days, do we really have to start with **IT**? Yes, apparently we do and I don’t get a choice about that. **IT** already happened.
My choice now is in how I respond. So I walk my big boy to the bathroom trying to convince him that he DID go, but he doesn’t believe me because he doesn’t feel it or smell it. He doesn’t understand. We go through the routine, again. And I know my words, my expression and my choices will affect how this guy feels about himself as time marches on and he is still in diapers in a year… maybe even two. Third grade? Fourth? He’s the one who has to process this. I’m helping HIM. I can’t feel sorry for myself to still be dealing with diapers. This is not about me.
And he’s off to school. All taken care of. Not yelled at or shamed..whew. I made it through another change.
I’ve washed my hands 8 times. I still smell like **IT**. Now I don’t want to drink my coffee. Gets my hands too close to my face and ruins it all for me. Sigh…
I remember complaining when he was 4, unaware that the issue was not stubbornness or laziness. I did thinks like the Extreme Potty Training Makeover. Why would this kid not potty train!?!? Now, as he nears the age of 8, and we understand what he faces ( Read: A Boy And His Poop, Getting To Know Asperger Syndrome) I have to tell you. I am thankful for his issue with **IT**. Every time I change him is another chance to exercise my soul. Will I go for saving grace or for losing **IT**.
And here’s the deal. God is so into hilarity. He absolutely knows my sense of humor well and my love for a bit of irony. He has quite literally used almost 8 years of actual feces to teach me how to not to lose my **IT**. You’ve gotta admit it. That is pretty much awesome. (Want more hilarity? Read: A Pathetic Tale of Miserable Hilarity, And The Quest For A Shower)
So for those of you who have asked “How I do it”, who seem to think that I have something you don’t, be aware that I spent my time Waiting For Supermom. She doesn’t exist. I, of all people, will never reach a stake of being some kinda Mama Yoda. And let us not forget, Yoda was 900 years old!!! That’s way more practice than any of us will ever have. And there’s something else to consider…..
Notice, you never see them together, just like Miley Crunkis and Justin Blueberry… There may be something to this Yoda vs. Hulk thing. Saving Grace vs. Losing our **IT**.
I think the answer is in finding the grace that is IT, because it IS always available. The question is not whether grace exists in our moments of struggle with **IT**. His grace is present in ALL of the moments.
The ones leading up to **IT**.
The moment **IT** happens.
The second we choose whether Saving or Losing…. Grace or **IT**.
And ultimately, the grace is still there….. even if you chose to lose your **IT** this time.
It’s there. Always. You have to choose to know it, see it, grasp it, cling to it and don’t let go. I pray that it won’t take YOU almost 8 years of daily **IT**… but if that is what it will take, I’m gonna have to pray that you be blessed with lots of **IT**.
Now, while you try to process all of that…. I’m going to go wash my hands again. I really thought I had it gone that last time. But then, I always do and there’s always more…. Thankful for more…again.
I had to come up with something, even if i was just going to share it with myself. Something poetic if only to justify my day to myself.
Ruckus destroyed a project.
The Brainiac and Big Sister had been working on for hours.
This happened while they were both downstairs working on their responsibilities in our home… one ironing and one loading dishes. They were being GOOD, and obedient, pleasantly working without complaint. They didn’t deserve their work destroyed yet here we are.
Same story, different day.
So I go through the routine, but he doesn’t get it today any more than he did yesterday or the day before. There is no remorse because there is no empathy. There is no click in his brain of understanding that he has ruined their work or why they are upset. He needed those legos. Now. That is all that exists to him.
Ruckus is a sensitive kid. He is caring and loving and full or emotions. They just don’t work on the same level of awareness that the majority has. So we work on this. Often.
How do we do it? How do we show the heart of the matter to these little ones who don’t have the capacity to put themselves in the place of others. They don’t “do” outside their own box well. Their box of understanding is as intriguingly limitless and bursting with potential as it is small and restricting, to those of us who can’t see inside of it.
His heart is there.
His feelings are there.
They are boxed up.
He sees what he did. He recognizes that it was not ok. It is done and he has moved on to something else. His logic tells him to do the next thing. The whole incident is outside of his box now. It’s up to me to work it back into his frame of reference.
So we worked through that today. For awhile. I see glimmers of hope and I know we’ll get there. Not today, not next week, but I have seen the amazing other side of these people, the ones who surf a different spectrum of viewing life. I know my son will turn out as a wonderful man. God made him to be. Without a doubt.
It just requires some serious dedication from everyone in our family and everyone around us. To work inside a box, and also nudge him outside of his box.
Still, sometimes as moms of spectrum surfers we need an outlet, if only to blow off some steam in a different direction that doesn’t point toward our kids. Steam can burn. We all no that.
We need to let it go in a way that doesn’t close them in.
Back to my opening sentence. I had to think of something. Something to decompress and let go of this situation and the angry response that well up in me, threatening to ruin any headway we have made with the Ruckus.
It felt good and I’ll share it with you for a little snort and chuckle. Here it is. My garbled attempt at throwing together a few words, with no time for rhyme or reason. Just words. My attempt at being one of those clever wordsmith types who throw together phrases that say something important, but not.
A Meme Artist, if you will.
With snorts and the spitting of coffee and rolling on floors type. I want the time to do that. That may never be me. I’m not that funny, yet here is today’s offering. My 15 minutes of free time:
Teaching empathy to an autism surfer is akin to
Climbing an Eiffel Tower constructed entirely of Legos
One leg glued to the other with a mix of glitter glue and E6000 adhesive
Flopping along like a mermaid out of water,
A weighty sloth on my back.. arms wrapped round my neck twice
Little paws flopped heavily over my eyes.
This would happen, of course, the only way it could,
With my hair bedraggled, no makeup, and teeth unbrushed
Wearing the stained, beat-to-threads kinda dress that is
Only meant to be seen around the house dress,
While suddenly finding my nostrils plugged with the baby wipes
The ones left over
from the last time I changed my 8 year old’s diaper,
Which was a really bad one.
Because as you know, if you know me at all, I always smell poop. Every where I go. I smell it.
Everyone should own some E6000. For realz.
As published in Macon Community News.
Since the first Labor Day in the 1880s, times have changed. Manual labor is not as much a part of our culture anymore. Even the word labor is not looked at the same as it used to be. I mean, when was the last time you heard someone use the word labor in a sentence when referring to any work other than childbirth?
With the word ‘labor’ being so far removed from our everyday common vocabulary, I often wonder if there is a correlation to the decline of our nation’s pride in what good labor is. Throughout history and literature, there are numerous quotes about the labor or your hands, the fruits of hard labor, etc. For me, they conjure up a feeling of pride and confidence in a job well done. It is possible that many of these quotes are no longer relevant or meaningful to families today who do not have a frame of reference for the use of the word labor. This seems like a great loss to me, in a time when a home life at warp speed. It makes it almost impossible to instill the joy of a job well done and pride in a completed chore in the days of our families.
We are a family of six and no one, not even the youngest at 4, is exempt from participating in how our home runs. In fact, Little Bit started helping out with her own responsibilities a long time ago, just as her three older siblings did. I am not talking about the typical “make them take care of their own things” that I believe most parents do. I tend to be a little more into their work than that. I believe that our children are capable of much more, and can learn to be proud of their labor if given the chance… much younger than we expect!
In our home the word “chores” does not really come up often. I have nothing against it, we just do not tend to use it. To me it does not convey the ownership that I want my children to feel for their part in keeping our home running. We are a team. Together. Instead we use the word “responsibilities”, because that is what they are and I am trusting my children to see them as that. Their responsibilities are important to all of us. Little Bit feeds the dog. She brings laundry down from her room to the laundry room. She loads and unloads the dryer. She has been doing this for a year since her big brother, Ruckus, graduated from the job and moved on to helping with other things.
Work is an important part of our day as adults and a job well done feels amazing, doesn’t it? Also, knowing that others are depending on us in a train of tasks that may span across several people helps us be aware that we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves in the workplace. Our children can learn this, too.
For example, dishes are an all hands on deck job for us. We make it very clear that there is a progression that needs to happen for things in the kitchen to keep rolling and if someone is not on top of their step, things come to a halt. Yep, that means Mama can’t cook if there aren’t any dishes for me to cook with. So I don’t. Little Bit unloads silverware, Ruckus and The Brainiac unload the other dishes, Big Sister loads, Papi does the hand-washing and Mama does the cooking. Sometimes the kids see my husband and I switching our jobs, because it may fit our day better. So, they will come together and talk about switching things up amongst them. We let them be responsible for that and make it clear that they have to get the work done, because if one step stops everything up that last step cannot happen properly. And that step of Mama cooking? They like the results of that one. They prefer that I keep cooking deliciousness.
As parents, each of us has daily opportunities to teach our children. We don’t have to make them happen. We can work them into life together. Laboring together. It does not always require hours of time on Pinterest or walking the aisles of a craft store. Make it simple! Give them the gift of work, and active participation in living out your days together in a job well done!