Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Race is On...

Emails have been popping up here and there for a few weeks and I have to admit, I haven't given them much thought. But the kiddo received his first college letter via snail mail today and while he smiled and read about early admission and summers on campus and dual enrollment and all of the joys to be had once he flies the nest, it was all I could do to keep it together. 

There’s so much more I want to teach him. So many more things I want to show him. There are so many more heart to hearts to be had. I know there’s still plenty of time, yet I also know the race to snag my son’s heart has begun. And while I’m proud potential home-away-from-homes-to-be see impressive AP and SAT scores, when I look him I still see this…

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fifteen years ago...

Fifteen years ago I was in my kindergarten classroom reading a story to my children when my Principal stepped in and caught my eye.  I excused myself and went to her, only to hear her say she expected parents to start arriving shortly to gather their children. In a quiet voice she then conveyed that the U.S. was under attack and that the Twin Towers had been hit.  News was still coming in about the Pentagon and Pennsylvania and officials in many major cities, including ours, were on high alert.  It was not impossible to think Chicago could be a target.  We’d been in class less than an hour.  

I asked if she could finish the story with my children to which she said yes.  My infant son, then just 5 months old, was in the school nursery a building away.  I ran to his room and found him sleeping in a swing overlooking a window with a view of a bright Chicago day.  I cradled and kissed him and told him that I loved him while he slept, and I prayed over him before I left.

And then I went on with my day.  I had twenty-four children waiting on me, oblivious that anything in their otherwise sunny world was wrong.  We had snack while parents trickled in.  We played with Legos, practicing our counting to twenty and naming our colors.  We wrote our names and practiced our spelling.  Time passed, every second feeling more like an hour, until the school day finally ended.  It was somewhere along the drive home I realized the skies above the Windy City were silent.

When I arrived home, I ran to the television only to be bombarded with images of devastation.  Pain.  Anguish.  Loss.  Desperation.  It was too much to watch yet I couldn’t turn away.  Disbelief.  Doubt.  Anger—they swamped me.  I was safe.  My husband was safe.  My son was safe.  But our homeland, this country I adore, was anything but safe.

While it felt like time stood still on September 11, 2001, life was taking place all around us.  I love you’s were spoken for the last time.  Promises of I’ll call you later would be broken.  Harsh words were left hanging between loved ones that could never be resolved.  Goodbye kisses were shared without hint of being final. And scores of selfless men and women laid down their lives for others.  I believe the best and worst of humanity met that day and that the battle still rages.  It’s not a battle of race or religion or color or privilege or geography.  Rather it’s the classic good versus evil.  Darkness versus light.  

There are times I feel that same fear and anger I felt coursing through me fifteen years ago.  As the events taking place in our world unfold, I often find myself shaking my head, disappointed we haven’t come further.  Then I’m reminded that darkness can’t drive out darkness.  Only light can do that.

We have a purpose far greater than staying trapped under the weight of our fears.  We’re called to be the light of the world and now more than ever we really need to shine.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Dark Days...

There's never been a thing in my life I’ve dedicated myself to more than being a mom. I wanted to be a mom.  I prayed to be a mom.  I planned to be a mom.  And I waited until I thought the time was just right for me to fully focus my time and energy into being a mom.  The majority of my days as a mom are pure joy.  But there a dark days, too.  Days I find my beautiful boy so deeply rooted in the quicksand at the middle of the Autism spectrum that I dare say a wrecking ball couldn’t shake him loose. 

The dark days..  I won’t lie; it’s not popular conversation.  But there are times I find myself pulled under, waving my fist at the God I adore and cursing fate.  I didn’t ask for this.  I didn’t want to have to start every conversation with a precursor.  I didn’t want my son to have some incredibly well defined condition in a medical book so he could be labeled the rest of his life and I could doubt every move I make as a mom.  Is this normal fifteen-year old boy stuff or is this because he has Asperger’s Syndrome?  Do all kids act like this or is this a new pattern of behavior he’s just now growing into?  Have we missed the diagnosis?  Are we being too hard (or too easy) on him because he has Autism?  Blah, blah, blah…  I could pave a road to China and back if I had a quarter for every time I’ve asked such questions.  Why me?  Why us?  My son didn’t ask for this.

The dark days call in to question every decision I’ve ever made as a mom.  The dark days test my stamina and make me doubt myself to the core of my being. They put my marriage in the crosshairs.  And they take my faith and put it in a mason jar and tape it to the underside of a teeter totter, tossing me up and down and shaking me until I’m barely hanging on, going too high and too fast for too long before I’m bottoming out and landing with a hard thud.  The dark days of parenting a child on the Autism spectrum take no prisoners.

The dark days make me wonder if I'm the right mom for this job.  And they cause an ache in my chest and bring a loneliness so gripping; I can’t put it into words.  Dark days bring a lot of tears.

I don’t feel like I know much right now about parenting my son and if you asked him, I’m sure he’d back me on this, putting my intelligence somewhere between that of a rock and your common variety garden slug.

It's true.  I don't always see a clear way forward. But I won’t stop trying to make the next right move no matter how dark the path.  I love my son with everything I am and I’ve never once questioned that he’s exactly the child God meant for me. No, I don’t always know what to do and I don’t always have an answer for the why.  But my belief is bigger than my fear and I love this kid.  And love is the answer.  I know that for sure.