Yesterday was about as perfect of a day as I could imagine. I am trying to sort out why it went so well and I am wondering if part of the reason was the contrast around it.
Earlier this week, I took out some time to groom my horse. He has a little curl in his main and it always gets ferocious tangles. I worked on it for about an hour and then had the idea to add coconut oil to help untangle the mess without ripping it out. Another hour later, he was tangle free and I was happy although covered with sweat, mud and horse hair.
I had not noticed that the left over oil had melted and gravity had sent it right over to the edge of the table at the exact spot I had left my phone for safe keeping. My plan had failed and coconut oil had seeped under my case. The phone still operates but the screen is dark except for the very top part.
The next day,I took my daughter for a hair cut and debated about what to do with my phone. I have started to depend on it for texts, internet use and email throughout the day and not being able to use it was frustrating and freeing. I read a book as I waited for her.
I stepped back to see Maddie in the chair with her beautiful long hair cut off and being stepped on the floor by the stylist. My stomach turned and I felt myself falling into a terrible emotional spot. My rational mind was saying that it was just hair but my heart hurt. How could such a beautiful thing by thrown away and not valued?
Maybe since my hair has never grown back completely since my chemo, I have more of an appreciation for hair. Maybe she was tired of brushing it and keeping out tangles. It seemed worth it to me. Neither she nor the horse seem to care anything about their beauty. It is all a projection on my part. It is hard for a parent to accept that our children may not want to be who we think they are.
Yesterday was different. As this was Maddie’s last day with us , we had decided to spend the day together. I planned out a few reinforcements to entice Ridge with-mainly Subway sandwiches and a large Sprite.
We worked out at Colt’s CrossFit, had a fun but not very healthy lunch, and then headed to Guadalupe State Park. I had packed some fruit and we had some rafts although the river was still pretty cold. Ridge has been there a few times before and so he was less anxious. Luckily it was not crowded and we settled on the grass by a tree. Before long we had eased into the cold water and enjoyed picking out pretty rocks. Ridge fought the current and threw rocks. The kids laughed as they made fun of one of my teacher’s sayings “don’t fight the river” they had heard on a cd a hundred times.
We noticed the bluebonnets and other wild flowers popping up and rested in the sun.
We went home and cleaned up, had supper and headed to see Zootopia (of course with candy and popcorn)and a final trip to Walmart. It was the first day I can think of that we were together all day and actually had fun!
Even with all these activities, there was no complaining, no melt downs, no anger… There was a bit of resistance at first , but then it seemed that Ridge made up his mind to have fun and we all had a great time.
It seems that resistance has been a major theme in our lives for so long that I forgot what ease and freedom were. One person’s problem becomes everyone’s problem in a family.
Life with autism can become a very tangled mess. Regular maintenance is best to fix issues before they get too big. Sometimes you may need help but that often leads to more issues. In the big scheme of things, those tangles may mean nothing. I hate to admit that my work may not have been needed.
For me, having a plan helps. Just a positive expectation is not enough. Planned reinforcements are needed at times for everyone to keep moving towards the goal.
The river keeps flowing wether we float along or we fight it. I am tired of the fight. Maybe my rough edges have been tumbled down some. My goals are changing too- peace and happiness are more important than anything else.
The river is life – there are times when it is scary. We may be able to navigate it but never completely control it. It passes quicker than we can understand. Don’t let the tangles keep you from seeing the bigger picture.