Friday, July 25, 2014

The Story of YOUR life

I say this almost every day: "I can't handle my life."

It's usually said at the end of the day, when things get super crazy with the kids, and I am about to blow my top. Or it's said on those days where there is just way too much to get done, and it never does. Or when all the kids are cranky at once, and it's loud and chaotic. Or when Julianna has another major tantrum.

But really, the meaning behind this sentence goes much deeper. All those little things that are just everyday stresses are nothing compared to what I am really facing: I have a child with autism (and a host of other things on the spectrum.) I have another child now entering the early start program, speech therapy, and feeding therapy, and possibly more surgeries in the future. And throw into that my middle child, who has overcome most of his health challenges, but is still your typical stubborn 7-year-old boy. So yes, most days I can't handle my life. But I keep going, day after day, because it's all I can do.

Trials are inevitable. Challenges will always come, no matter what we do. After Nathan was born, and I had to face even more challenges ahead, I began to see something that I hadn't before. Something that my younger brother said to my mom after Nathan's birth. "Everyone has trials. Kera's trials just have to do with her children."

This is the story of MY life. And every single person has challenges in his or her life. My sisters and I were able to go somewhere together, just us, while I was in Utah. We collectively agreed that we each had very challenging things that we are struggling with, just all different. Does it matter whose challenges are greater? Not really. But what did help is acknowledging and sharing those challenges with each other, because by doing that, we strengthened one another and bonded in a new way.

You all probably know by now that I go to the doctor, a LOT, with my kids. This week was no different. While at the children's hospital waiting room a few days ago, I looked around at all the people in that room and just wished I could go around to each and every person and ask why they were here. What was going on with their child? How were they dealing with the challenges they face with their child? In just one waiting room, I could have written dozens of blog posts about people who are facing major challenges with their children, much more than I am facing. I could have gained so much strength from those people, if I wasn't so occupied with my own toddler. It made me think that there is too much silence in waiting rooms.

I still remember taking Nathan to the craniofacial team last year when he was a baby. In the waiting room that day, I could tell that many of these children had such difficult things to face. I even noticed one mother look at Nathan, and I could tell she was questioning why I was there. On the outside, Nathan looks and acts completely normal. Her child had a facial deformity. I felt for this mother, and many of the other mothers and fathers in the room. Again, I wanted to know their stories, and how they were coping.

My major trials come as a result of what my children have been diagnosed with, what they have to struggle with, just like all those other parents in that waiting room. Their trials are my trials, too, because I am their mom, and as a mom, you have to try to help your children overcome their problems. You have to try to make them happy, to live as comfortably as they can, to learn new things, to face people who might belittle or bully them, to give them the best quality of life possible. Every parent should try to do this, whether they have special needs children or not.

What I have been realizing lately, too, is that because my children present so many challenges, it is very difficult to love being a mother. I want to love being a mom, but to be honest, I don't always love it. I feel like I am in survival mode. All of the what if's and uncertainties ever present in my situation with my children often overpower me, and take away from the happiness I want to feel. So I have to seek out happiness in those little moments that come each day, when Blake says something really intelligent or caring, or when Julianna surprises me by a making a humorous remark, or when Nathan learns a new word or sign. The stress of my life is not going to go away, but I can't let it overpower the joy that I want to feel. I can have joy in this journey I am on with my children. Every single person can have joy in his or her journey through life.

How boring it would be if we didn't have trials. A good movie has to have conflict and resolution in order for it to be interesting and worthwhile. So it is with our own lives, our own stories we are writing. Without conflict or trial, we would not be learning anything. We would not be changing or evolving, improving or expanding. While in Utah, I had the great opportunity to meet up with an old friend, and we of course caught up on our lives. I felt like I was talking too much about my life, and I apologized for this. But she really wanted to hear what I have been going through, and I was happy to share it with her. And she shared her story. And we gained strength from on another.

Trials are just part of your life's story. How we face those trials makes a huge difference in how our story will be written. When all is said and done, I want my children to know that I loved them, that I did everything I could to help them through their own challenges. And that as they faced those challenges, I was right there with them, cheering them on every step of the way. And that I did all this with joy, not anger or defeat. That I loved being their mom.

What is the story of your life, and how are you writing it? Don't be afraid to share it with others.

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