Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Joshua Houdini

I'm Mom of the Year!! Lol, jk, not really.  And you're about to find out why not.  The last few days have been...trying.  To say the least.  By the time evening rolls around, I am exhausted beyond comprehension (for someone like me who has always been a night owl) and I am hounded by the feeling that when it comes to this parenting stuff I am terribly inadequate.  Let me explain...

Yesterday afternoon I was rushing around the kitchen, blending up Joshua's smoothies for the next 24 hours and starting dinner.  Caleb was upstairs gated into the bedroom watching a movie...sort of his timeout for when he refuses to listen to me downstairs and mostly so I could actually get something done.  Joshua was pulling on me to take him in the backyard to play and my plan was to finish up what I was doing, get dinner in the oven, and then grab Caleb and take them both out together.  But Joshua was so persistent I finally let him out by himself and kept an eye on him through the window over the sink.  We have a high, wooden fence around our backyard, with a gate that latches pretty high up.  Lately, he's attempted to open it a couple times but has never really been successful, plus I was watching him like a hawk through the window.  He kept coming back to the door trying to get me to come out and push him on the swing and finally gave up and climbed into the trampoline and started jumping.  

Bobby was calling on his way home from work so I answered the phone as I stood watching Joshua bounce around.  Then he starts telling me something that is making me have to hold back a small panic attack.  His company is switching insurance carriers, which opens up a giant box of questions in my mind about what this means for Joshua's ABA therapy that has been such a help to him lately.  I don't know if they are in network with the new insurance, I don't know how this will affect our scholarship, and I'm not even sure ABA will be covered under the new policy.  All of these thoughts are falling out of my head when suddenly I look back up through the window into the backyard and don't see Joshua on the trampoline.  I glance around the yard, still don't see him, so I walk outside and check around the corner where the gate is.  It's still closed (and I have assumed it's been locked).  I walk to the other side of the house where I've seen him wander over to the A/C unit lately, and he's not there either.  I hang up on Bobby and run into the house.  Maybe he came back in again and I was so distracted by the phone conversation I didn't see him...

He's nowhere.

I run back outside into the yard thinking maybe he was hiding somehow...I still don't see him.  I run toward the gate (only to realize it's not locked) and out into the front yard.  I look up and down our street and see no sign of him.  There is a clear view from one end to the other and I don't see him so I think maybe I missed him inside.  I check inside again and...


The front yard and down the street again...Nothing.

One more time through the backyard and into the house and...Nothing.  I grab my phone with the intention of dialing 911 and as I walk out into the front yard one more time...Thank You, Jesus...

A group of young kids and one adult woman are walking down the sidewalk, glancing and pointing at all of the houses as they pass, and the woman is holding the hand of a little four year old boy wearing only blue jeans.  I sprinted across the yard and scooped him up, only seconds from becoming a hysterical, snotty mess.  She tells me she saw him walking down the middle of their street (a road perpendicular to ours that ends in a cul-de-sac) and she told one of the kids to grab him.  One of the little girls had actually seen him coming out of the gate and was trying to remember which house it had been when I saw them.  Somewhere in between my thank-yous and rambling I had blurted out that he had Autism, and she smiled and said they had a cousin with Autism and she recognized it the second she saw him strolling down the street.  We talked for a second while I calmed down, holding Joshua to my chest like I might never let go of him again, and she mentioned how scary it was because most of the cars on this road are speeding, on their way into the adjoining neighborhood section.  I agreed, but didn't mention how the entire time I couldn't find him all I could think about was a blog post I had read talking about numerous children with Autism who had been killed because they wandered from their homes and were hit by cars.  The issue being, as it is in so many different instances, that they have no concept of danger.

Eventually I took him back inside and sucked up enough courage to call Bobby and explain to him why I had hung up on him so abruptly.  

So that might have been enough to give me early gray hair, but then today happened too.

Bobby was outside on the grill, and I was cooking in the kitchen when our doorbell rings, and what do ya know?  It's another neighbor holding the hand of a sweet little boy in footie pajamas.  I didn't even know he was gone.  I am pretty certain he snuck out behind me through the garage when I went out to our extra freezer, but I never saw even a glimpse of him come out of the house.  This time was less of an anxiety attack, because it didn't involve a frantic search...but the fact that I didn't notice he was gone before someone had already brought him back (from the whole other end of a street, I might add) is weighing on me.  

It's the kind of thing people hear about on the news and think to themselves, "Well just what was his mother doing while he was off traipsing through the neighborhood?".  I'm the first one to blame, and admittedly, if there is someone to blame it would have to be me.  It can't be him, he doesn't know any better.  At this point all I can do is take extra care to lock the gate, and close doors behind me...maybe add a few more locks.  But mostly, thank Jesus He is watching out over all of us.  

And that when I'm throwing my hands up in the air saying, "Are you kidding me??  I'm not cut out for this!  I'm not the one!!  I've never been someone anyone would expect to be able to handle all of this!!", He's reminding me that it's not mine to carry anyway.  And that even when I try to carry it...ALL of it, He's catching what I let fall through until I just finally hand it back over.  I can handle feeling insufficient at times because I know that He is more than enough.  I can knock back self-pity because I know that I have something many people in the same or worse situations don't have, and that's hope.  Tonight my emotions may have me feeling broken down but my spirit is still clinging to that anchor, and I know tomorrow is a new day, with new mercies, and enough grace to command joy for one more day.

And thank You, Lord, for good neighbors.

"I tell you, He will defend and protect and avenge them speedily.  However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [persistence in] faith on the earth?"
Luke 18:8 AMP

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Another Day in the Life...

I have a habit of not writing if I don't have anything particular to say.  Today is one of those days, but I need to keep this blog going so here I am.  

I've been more exhausted than normal lately because Joshua is in this phase where he doesn't want to sleep past 3:30 or 5:00.  We're trying to figure out what's keeping him up but so far nothing has helped consistently.  To make matters worse, last night he would have slept the whole night through except he woke up crying and dry heaving.  He did that off and on for about two and a half hours, finally was able to get some sleep, and then woke up this morning perfectly fine.  So that makes four days he's missed ABA in two weeks.  I don't like interrupting his routine, but he doesn't seem to mind an extra day at home here and there.

Caleb has been in rare form and is into everything, even more than usual.  He climbs everything, and has consequently learned how to get out of his crib.  It looks like we'll be switching him to a toddler bed soon and I'm not thrilled about it.  My baby will officially not be a baby anymore.  He's also trying to talk more and more and I have to admit I am loving that.  Even if it means he is climbing the kitchen cabinets screaming, "Bubbles!  Bubbles!" about fifty times a day.

I mentioned Bobby and I are going on a fishing trip in May and I am beginning to have mixed feelings.  I'm very excited because we have never been on a trip away together for this long or this far from home (we've been parents for a big chunk of our relationship), but I'm also dreading leaving the boys for that long.  My Momma-in-law is keeping them at our house so she can get Joshua to therapy and that makes me as comfortable as I could possibly be about it, but like I said, we've never been away from them for that long.  Not to mention I have a feeling our phones won't work once we're out in the Gulf.  So right now I'm working on being excited and pushing down the panicky feelings.  I might need to go on a Gander Mountain raid to get me in the mood.  I'm probably about due for a new rod and reel anyway.  And I think I probably need some Costas too.  Right, baby? ;)

Anyway, things have been pretty standard around here lately.  Last weekend my Girls-Night-Out girls came and spent the day with me which was awesome.  In the beginning we did GNO every two weeks.  Eventually we started moving the day around to accommodate schedules and started going longer in between get-togethers.  Since I've moved so far away they've been almost non-existent so I really loved getting to see everyone.  And one of my most favorite people ever came and baby-sat for me and stayed the night so that was just the cherry on top of a great couple of days.  I need social interaction and it's something I've had to mostly learn to do without since we moved away from all of our friends and family, so whenever I get to talk to an adult face to face I try and soak it up like I'm a camel storing up water for the next long walk through the desert.

Nothing much else to say except we had a huge thunderstorm come through Tuesday, and the sun has come out today with just as much force as the rain.  A nice little metaphor to fit my expectancy for life right now.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Sweetest Boy

Yesterday when I picked Joshua up from "school", one of the new therapists walked him out.  As she finished telling me about his day she told me how incredibly sweet he is (which gave her some brownie points because I hadn't really been sure about her so far).  I just smiled and said, "Yeah, he is."  Because, I mean, what am I going to say?  Thanks?  He's not sweet because of my excellent child-rearing skills, that's for sure.  It's just simply who he is.

As I got in the car and began driving home, I thought about that fact and about all the things I love so much about that little boy.  The thing is, lately I've been thinking a lot about what my stance on this situation says about my relationship with Joshua, or, more accurately, how other people might view it.  There is a school of thought out there that might say because I desire healing for my son, that I'm not truly embracing the person that he is.  That to accept him, I would have to accept his autism as simply part of who he is.  I have battled this idea in my mind for months now because it breaks my heart to think someone might read about my faith for God to heal my son and assume it means I think of him as "less than".  I'm not saying anyone has given me any reason to believe they think that, but if you poke around the internet Autism community long enough it becomes evident that there are others who might view you that way.  And here I am, worrying about what other people think again.

My point in all of this is that I want to make it absolutely clear how much I love Joshua just as he is right this moment.  I don't need him to be healed before I can see the individual characteristics that God has given him or imagine the type of man he would make.  I'm his mother, and therefore my bond with him isn't contingent on any type of condition.  What I think of his value as a person isn't more or less depending on his level of function.  I simply believe/know that God always wants to heal.  If you can find one time in the Bible that Jesus passed by someone who needed healing and told them, "No, I'm not going to heal you.  This is going to make you humble." , then please point it out to me because I would be shocked.  I look at this through the eyes of John 10:10, "The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)."  It's a verse I must hear in my head at least a few times a day, every day, and I know it's to remind me not to settle for less.

So let me get back to Joshua and all of the things that make him a perfect little boy.  I did a Bio post on Caleb, but I never got around to doing any others, so I thought this was a good set up for Joshua.  First, I really need to elaborate on the therapist pointing out how sweet he is.  Because if you spend any time around Joshua, you'll notice, he's not sweet in a typical, all-four-year-olds-are-so-sweet way.  It's like he has this deep type of goodness down inside him.  Like the kindness that most people only develop with age and life experience.  I might be romanticizing it a little, being his momma and all, and he's still a four year old so it's not like he walks around on this glowing cloud all day long in a land of no tantrums...but mostly, he makes me want to be a kinder person.  

Sometimes I feel like he has so much depth to him and is probably having all of these really philisophical thoughts, but then I remember that he is still just a little boy and who knows, he might be thinking about how badly he wants some Cheetos.  Even so, I firmly believe he understands more about what is going on than we think he does. 

He loves playing outside and would probably stay out there all day if we let him.  He is happy and hilarious and can always make me smile.  He is particular and independent.  He knows what he wants, and what he doesn't want.  He is, plain and simple, gorgeous.  I make myself not think about all of the little girls that will be vying for his attention one of these days.  He is smart and resourceful in ways that let me know he is capable of complex thought, even if he can't verbally communicate it.

All of these things make up who he is, but Autism isn't one of them.  To me, it is simply an intruder.  Something that doesn't make him less perfect, but is robbing him of a full, abundant life.  I loved him to completion the first second I laid eyes on him, and no amount of circumstances could change that.  I simply want the best possible for him,  and I still believe that with God ALL things are possible.