Monday, July 18, 2011

When The Bough Breaks ...

I’m sure there is some deep meaning to the lullaby “Rock-a-Bye, Baby,” but it always disturbed me, especially when I was little. While I didn’t claim to be the most responsible parent of my plastic pseudo-children (one cannot make that claim after ruining a doll by leaving it out in the rain), I knew that putting a live baby in a TREE was a terrible idea! And if those dopey parents insisted on keeping the little darling up there, shouldn’t there have been a net to prevent the inevitable fall of “baby—cradle, and all?” I shook my little four-year-old noggin disapprovingly whenever I heard that awful song. Little did I know, my life as Wyatt’s mommy would relate more to that song than any other …

Having a child with autism is definitely a balancing act-- not unlike trying to parent in a tree! My little guy has a plan, and as long as his plan is in motion, he really prefers to keep me at arms’ length. Oh sure, he comes for snuggles in the morning and occasionally at night, but he doesn’t “need” me like his brother Alan does. He prefers to spend much of his time in his own little world. Things seem to make more sense to him there, I suppose. He loves his family, I have no doubt; but he finds his security in routine and regiments. He’s happiest in his tree, being gently rocked by the winds of predictability.

Change, however, throws his rhythm completely out of whack. Be it daylight savings time, haircut day, early release from school or a new pair of shoes, the routine he so desperately craves has ceased. The “wind” is no longer swaying Wyatt’s tree, and he cannot make sense of it. His world becomes too loud, too hard and too bright for his senses to take in. As his mother, I have to try to “sway the branches” myself. I attempt to guess the proper tension of the limbs and speed of my movement; hoping I will soothe my son. Sometimes, it works. In other instances, my efforts are not enough or too much. I become frustrated, and as much as I’d hate to admit it, I lose my patience from time to time. I go into lengthy explanations when I know he’s stimming and can’t process it, because I want to feel better. I cave and give him too much of what he wants, simply because I’m exhausted. I take it personally that I can’t fix my son and I raise my voice or speak too harshly.

That is when the bough breaks.

Cradle and all, in this sense, includes me. When I fail as a parent, I hit the ground first, but we all feel the impact. Wyatt seems to heal from it all so much faster than I do; for an autistic child, he is very forgiving. For that, I am very grateful! While I tend to my bumps and bruises, my Heavenly Father comforts me. He gives me grace I don’t deserve time and time again—Even though I often forget to bother asking Him how to comfort Wyatt. In the midst of my struggle, I forget that I have twenty-four hour access to The One who made my son and loves him even more than I do. I don’t have to know it all, I cannot fix it all and I cannot possibly carry this burden alone. In the back of my mind, I know all this. I am never left in a pile of twigs and leaves wondering how I got there. Regardless of all that, my Father loves, heals, strengthens and renews our entire family. He gives me the courage I need to return to the base of Wyatt’s tree, tirelessly watching over us.

I’m not going to lie; parenting a child who lives “outside of the box” is not easy. Conventional parenting and teaching techniques simply do not work. I have had to do and say some things as Wyatt’s mommy that make that crazy lullaby seem completely logical! That being said, there are many parts of my life with him that are so incredible, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Many parents will probably have a “safer” time parenting on the ground, but they’ll miss out on the beautiful view from Wyatt’s tree.

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About Me

I'm not your average housewife; but then, neither is any other housewife I've met! My life is a constant blur of kids, animals, hunting down and testing allergy-friendly recipes, shopping, LOTS of coffee, yarn crafting, nannying, singing and writing. I married my highschool sweetheart (the introvert who is a type-A, shy, organized, loves hunting, hiking and mountain climbing. He lives for pizza, burgers and cookies and doesn't like coffee). We are polar opposites, but Love, grace and a whole lotta Jesus can overcome anything! :) We have two boys who fill this house with lots of excitement, love, laughter and lunacy! Alan (9) is a happy-go-lucky, inventive, dramatic, eager-to-please kid who loves being dad's shadow and mom's shopping companion. He's the snuggliest kid I've ever met! Wyatt is extremely bright, inquisitive, entertaining and endearing. He lives for routine, Wii games, pixar films and writing stories. Alan is typically-developing, Wyatt has high-functioning autism. We live on an acre in the Pacific Northwest with our two aussies and 5 chickens. It's not the Waltons, but it works! :)