Sunday, May 29, 2011

Breathing Grace

We all have these days as moms; as parents; as humans. You know what I mean? The days that start out so earnestly. For me, it usually means I took the time to flip through the pages of my Bible; have a little chat with God. I often (knowing all too well what lies ahead) plead that I don't just pray and believe a bunch of empty words in the quiet of the morning, but remember them throughout the stress of the day -- that I actually apply what I learn. I'm not so foolish as to not ask for God's strength, to try to do it all on my own.

Yet STILL. Failure occurs.

Yesterday was not a disaster. I decided to keep the kids away from the backyard for the bulk of the day since Dan is working hard to finish our deck. We went to the park. We went to McDonalds, including the play area. We did errands. Throughout it all I felt my stress level begin to rise. Never mind the usual challenge of two young kids and the strong wills that come with them; autism sometimes complicates things.

Throughout the day, I tried to plan everything out in my head. The running conversation up there went something like this: Okay we'll go to the playground first and then the bird sanctuary. Then we need to promise something else fun or Ethan won't do the bird sanctuary. How do I slow him down so that I can still enjoy the birds with Anna even though he's so bored by animals? How do I get him away from the water fountain? We can't do snack first because we need to save that for the garden, since I know he'll be bored by the garden, and Anna will want to see the garden. But we better save some of the drink because they want to do another playground. How can I get him to listen to me at Sears? Should I still let him go to McDonalds when he ignored me and played with the door when I told him not to? Should I just let him play with the door? How can I let him play with the door to the play area at McDonalds when people keep going in and out? He's trying to force it closed and he's going to get hurt. How can I encourage him back into the tunnels and away from this tantrum because I told him to leave the door alone?

And on and on I went. As my thoughts danced away, I felt the pressure cooker boiling. Steam began to escape from the cracks. I became more snappish. Sometimes I yelled. By the end of the day, despite all of the fun things we did and the blast the kids had with the hose in the backyard when all was said and done, all I could think of was how I rushed from one thing to another, my mind rushed from one thing to another, and I bubbled over and nagged and snipped and snapped all throughout the day. And worse was wondering if that's all my family would remember of the day, too.

"You're being too hard on yourself," Dan cautioned gently, after the kids were in bed. More than that, I think, I was being too hard on life, working so intensely to mold the day into something perfect.

Working is the key word there. So much of life with autism involves working, planning, organizing, thinking ahead, analyzing, reflecting on how to do it better, make it better, change things around. Sometimes though I can get lost in the work and forget about living -- forget to breathe in grace.

This morning Ethan woke up singing his ABCs. Anna ran in and they cuddled and tickled and ran around together, and then she helped him get dressed. Neither of them looked at me in judgment. Neither of them remembered my failures.

Thank God His mercies truly are new every morning. Today I get another chance. Not to be perfect. But to live remembering that I have been endowed with a grace that never stops flowing.


Crystal Senzig said...

I SO needed this today. The "working" aspect of life with autism is something that is so hard to describe to people who don't know. It's so hard to relax; so hard to let your guard down and just breathe. Thank you, Deb!

Anonymous said...

oh, there's that verse again - mercies new every morning. isn't it so like our kids to be that model of grace to us?