Just another regular morning…Son1 and Son2 bumping into each other, getting frustrated with one another, while getting ready for school. Son3 protesting, “I’m not going to school.” all the way up to the moment he happily climbs aboard the big, yellow bus with Daughter1, who is walking carefully so as not to trip over the shoestrings she didn’t tie because we don’t like to make Mr. Terry wait, all while Daughter2 sleeps peacefully through the morning. Yes, it was another Mom of the Year morning in our home: lots of sighs, lots of frustration, and yes, if I were to be honest, lots of internal grumbling of “How hard can this be?” and “Praise God we only have a few weeks of this left!”, and an intermittently raised voice attempting to head son1 and son2 back to the path of kindness and respectfulness, even for each other, all the while hoping they can overlook the frustration in mom’s raised voice and get the message she intends.
And yet, when all was said and done, four children went to the bus without anger, and even hurled an, “I love you, Mom.” back in the door on their way to face the day. Success. Young people heading the direction they need to head, calm and collected enough to look past mistakes of the morning and face the day head-on.
As parents, I think we all have at least a small desire for that perfect morning when everyone wakes up on their own and happily goes about their business of showering, fixing their own lunches, and laughing together over breakfast. But in all honesty, that’s nothing more than a pipedream in our house. We’re doing good to get everyone out the door in a timely manner, clean, fed, and ready to face the day. Some days, sadly not this day, but some days, we even get a morning devotional in before the kids head out to face their day. Those are the days I want to stand at our front door and give my best rendition of Tarzan of the Jungle, bellowing my war cry and pounding my chest, for I feel accomplished in my role as mom. The reality is, most days are not like that. Most days, I smile and say a prayer as the big, yellow bus disappears from sight, thanking God for another morning with a house full of children I could have never imagined as a child myself, but now, can’t imagine my life without.
When I was younger, I always had dreams of being a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher, something, someone “important”. But then around the age our middle children are now, I realized how much my mom invested in being our mom. She was a full time, stay at home mom and farm wife, who also happened to volunteer weekly at our church doing the bulletins with two other amazing stay at home moms and always helped with every PTA event and attended every school function and ball game, even the ones I barely left the bench. And she watched, not from the comfort of the car, but from the hillside, because we didn’t even have bleachers back in those days! And never once that I can recall did she complain.
I don’t remember thinking as a young child that I would do the same and yet, here I am, a stay at home mom, who works for our church, and while not a farm wife, runs her own business from the comforts of home, where I can still be “mom” and “wife”. Though my principal husband doesn’t need my assistance near as much as my farmer dad needed mom’s, it’s still a joy to pitch in and help him when he does. And I couldn’t be happier or more fulfilled. Somewhere along the line, I realized that being a wife and mom, is the most important task I could possibly ever have the joy of doing and I am so thankful, even in the midst of the less than perfect morning moments like earlier today. I am so very thankful that God has chosen me for this role.
Parenting isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination; not for anyone. But add in some special needs for your child and you have a whole new ball game, one in which you have to learn the rules because nothing is as it seems. It’s a game which you have to keep playing, day in and day out, multiple times a day because sometimes it takes thousands of repetitions just to get the most basic needs figured out, and sometimes, the figuring out part never happens. Ever. It is those moments that you realize, you’re in this for the long haul – for.ev.er – even for the most basic needs. And yet, you do it with a thankful heart because those children are just as precious as the “normal” kids you thought you might be getting. And you learn something new almost every day about life and the things that really matter, often, even about yourself.
Joan Ryan said, “Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. It’s about understanding he is exactly the person he is supposed to be. And that, if you’re lucky, he just might be the teacher that turns you into the person you are supposed to be.”
I couldn’t agree more. As we tuck Ben and his siblings into bed each night, even after the most exhausting “autism day” (how we refer to the days Ben struggles most), I still am more at peace in those few precious seconds of eye contact than I think I ever could have been in any one of those jobs I thought was “important” in my childhood. Truth be told, I think every parent has a little bit of doctor, lawyer, and a whole lot of teacher in them…so maybe I hit the jackpot and got everything I ever dreamed of without even knowing it.