I've hesitated about sharing this story for a full month. It doesn't show off my best personality traits, parenting skills or faith. However, it will give you a glimpse of life with Autism. Plus, it has a pretty cool ending. And since Autism Awareness Month is over for another year, I should post something about Autism...right? I've had a nice, way too long break from my blog.
(Call it twin shock, if you will.)
So this is me, posting late, again....for the win.
A little background...
My two youngest boys have Autism. Thankfully, they are both considered high-functioning. The older of the two has Asperger's Syndrome and my little one has classic Autism/PDD-NOS. My little one is laid back and a bit more social than his brother. He is not the least bit anxious about anything except bugs. My older boy, on the other hand, struggles with anxiety every single day. Transitions of all kinds cause him, and often those around him, great suffering. Most days, transitioning from sleeping to waking starts a cycle of anxiety and resistance that just will. not. quit.
After completing three quarters of the school year, I was exhausted and that's without a single day in the classroom. The months of our daily routine had worn me out. On top of my boy's anxiety, we had a terribly long, hard winter filled with illnesses of all kinds. I was SO ready for SpRiNg BrEaK. MORE than ready. Those daily morning struggles had worn me down to a nub. Add the same transition anxiety and resistance at bedtime (and the occasional breakdown at school) and you can probably understand why I so desperately needed that break. My life had taken on the feeling of "Groundhog Day" and every day was the same. Heck, most mornings we even heard the same songs on the radio. I had become a female Bill Murray, trudging through my days. Not good. Spring Break could NOT come quickly enough! Notice a theme here? Yep, this has nothing to do with how Autism affects my boys' daily lives. This is all about me.
Early in the week before Spring Break, our local weatherman added the possibility of snow late in the week. Snow! Could we possibly get Friday off as a snow day?? An EXTRA day off?? Seriously, the idea of an extra day settled within my weary soul and even as the forecast wavered, I began to pray earnestly for that extra day. I told God how badly I needed that extra day. I never once gave thought to anyone else. I was so selfish. Even so, as we trudged through that week before Spring Break, I prayed for an extra day.
Wednesday night my teenager fell ill. He felt bad Thursday morning, but went to school anyway. He was worse by Thursday night. Since he had to have a doctor's note for any absences, I upped my prayers for that extra day off on Friday. No school meant no doctor's note, no hassle. It was probably just a cold and he could recover with an extra day off.
The weatherman had us under a winter weather advisory for Thursday into Friday morning with little accumulation, but hey...
it could happen...
That night I prayed for just enough snow to cancel school. I petitioned God, "Please, we only need enough for an extra day off and a day for my teen to rest and feel better." How thoughtful of me, right? Or maybe I thought God might listen if I wasn't so selfish...
I will just be honest and tell you that I was BEYOND angry when I saw wet grass and walkways that Friday morning. I was livid. I felt wronged and forgotten and unworthy. I felt unloved by the One who loves me most.
Needless to say, my boy went beyond his normal resistance that Friday morning--it was a bad, bad morning. Even my little one was a struggle and that is very rare. And on top of that, my teen was ill with a high fever and asthma troubles.
My anger grew and grew as I stomped around trying to get the little boys ready for school and a doctor's appointment for the teen. And once I dropped the little boys off at the school entrance, (with a fight, I might add) I turned that anger toward the God of the Universe.
I let Him have it. (By the way, you can be honest with God about your feelings. He already knows your heart, so hiding it won't change a thing.) I told him how disappointed I was that He didn't give me that extra day I felt I needed so desperately. That He didn't care enough about me to even acknowledge my request. Not only did He not acknowledge it, He allowed the morning to be so much worse than normal. Of course, I didn't take any credit for my bad attitude all morning--that was His fault, too, as far as I was concerned.
I railed at Him just as hard as I had begged my teen to go to school and 'tough it out' for one day. So sad.
I felt justified. I needed a break. Now.
I returned home that morning just long enough to get the teen and head out to the local minor med clinic. We had visited this clinic all winter and it was always packed. If you didn't get there at 8:00 am, you were in for a wait. We both knew what we were up against that day. It was 8:30 already. I made sure to let God know what I thought about that, too.
The drive to the clinic was silent. I fumed. My teen was in a feverish stupor. He was probably worried about my mental health. Who knows? He certainly wasn't talking to me. We turned into the clinic parking lot. It was empty. Great, I thought. It is probably closed due to an emergency or something. But, no. It was open...and empty. We walked right in and straight back to the exam room and the awaiting doctor.
The clinic was still empty when we left about thirty-five minutes later. Odd. It was the fastest and easiest visit ever. Even the doctor remarked about the oddity of that morning. We were back home in no time with much-needed medication in hand.
Later that day, I picked up two happy little boys who both had great reports that day and smiles on their faces. Weird. Especially after our horrible morning.
And it was officially Spring Break. Hallelujah!!
That night I grudgingly apologized and thanked God for how the day ended. His response was loud and clear. It could not have been clearer if He had sat with me in the flesh and spoke to me face-to-face. This is what He said:
I know you wanted an extra day. I know you wanted snow to fall, but I did not.
I calmed your little boys this morning. You did not notice in your anger at me. Your attitude caused both boys to react to your negativity.
I protected you on your way to the clinic. No snow meant less danger and a safer drive for you and your teen.
I cleared the clinic for you--you did not have to wait at all. Your teen had the doctor's full attention and he got the medicine he so desperately needed.
I allowed a safe drive home and an easy day of rest.
Your boys were happy to see you after school despite your terrible attitude. And by the way...You really need to take time to talk to me when you are stressed and not just when you want something. I gave you these special boys for a reason--I have faith that you can parent them successfully. Do not let yourself get weary. I will carry your burdens.
I care for you more than you will ever comprehend, dear one, but I also care for your teen. You did not need an extra day...not this time. Not more than your teen needed a doctor. And you really needed this lesson.
Thank you, Jesus, for taking my anger and calling me out when I try to take control and do things my own way and in my own strength.
This is me, living and dealing with the reality of Autism, sometimes gracefully, often times, notsomuch...one day at a time.
***I'm thinking about making this a regular monthly feature. Glimpses of life with Autism or Living with Autism--a Parent's Perspective. Parenting Asperger's and Autism can be exhausting. It can be joyous. It can be fun, exciting, scary, crazy....It helps to hear from others experiencing similar struggles and joys. Thoughts?