“Your life sounds really stressful.”
“That sounds like a lot of work and very tiring.”
“I bet it gets really loud and crazy at your house.”
Yes, yes and yes. Our life is a little stressful, a lot of work, very tiring and loud doesn’t even cover it on some days. These comments are often followed with statements like “I don’t know how you do it all the time” or “I could never do what you do”.
While I appreciate that there is some recognition of all the effort it takes to do what we do, let’s have a moment of truth.
It isn’t always easy. I don’t always enjoy it. There are days where my attitude is awful. Follow through on things we are trying to implement doesn’t always happen. There are days I binge watch BBC TV Series (Sherlock, Downton Abbey or Call the Midwife anyone?) just like everyone else.
There are days when my response to my kids is less than patient and my voice is more than loud. Occasionally the consequences I give are to much and the encouragement to little.
We are all running the race of life. Races are tiring. Sometimes I just want to sit by the side of the road and catch my breath or give up all together and call it quits.
Many parents and care givers do give up. It’s easier. It is simpler to ignore than it is to engage. I absolutely understand why people running the race while they try and bring along a Difficult Minded child quit. I have wanted to more than once.
Then there is rest.
It is impossible to give and give and give if we haven’t taken the time to rest. We will burn out without rest, we will give up without renewal, we will quit when we don’t take time to look up from our race and know there is victory ahead.
Rest looks differently for everyone. My version of rest has a couple layers:
-Sleep. Actually, naps. Some days by the time 9am rolls around I’ve fought the physical battle to get my son to school and I am exhausted. I could use the afternoon rest time for the other kids to work, read, clean – a thousand other things but, if I want to run my race well, I have to stop and physically refuel. An hour nap on our living room couch without any feelings of guilt can be exactly what I need to not just make it through the day but also go the extra mile.
-Retreat. Leaving my home, alone, is an amazing experience for me. A morning running errands alone or an evening of coffee and cupcakes with a friend calls me back to who I am, my heart. Not only is my son not defined by his Difficult Mind, I am not defined by my son. I have hobbies and interests and friends and life outside of my struggle with my son. I am a uniquely made and lovingly called woman with a purpose. Leaving my home alone reminds me of that!
-Travel. I grew up traveling, it’s part of what makes me who I am and it speaks to me and energizes me in a big way. When I’ve done all the sleeping and retreating I can but still can’t see the sun through the rain, I travel. We aren’t wealthy so I’m not taking European vacations but I do travel to the cities near me and visit museums, restaurants and gardens. I often go alone just for a break but even with others I enjoy a great sense of renewal and beauty in traveling.
This thing we do is hard. Being “ON” all the time wasn’t what I signed up for when I became a parent. Yet here we are.
We have this son and this marriage and these therapists and this time. We only get one shot at making the best decisions we can with the knowledge and resources we have. I want to do my best to give our son and everyone he interacts with the best chance at having good relationships.
To get there, I have to have rest. Physical, spiritual, mental and emotional rest.
So yes, this thing we are trying to do is hard, tiring, takes work, is stressful and absolutely gets loud.
I make a choice every day to do it. I make a choice to be the best advocate, mom, friend and wife I can for my son.
This means I also choose rest, I choose to be whole from the inside out so that my son has a chance to be whole from his inside out too.
“Hope and sorrow in it all there’s rescue and there’s not.”
There’s Rescue: I have a husband who helps me get the rest I need. I live near family who is always willing to pitch in when they are called on. I have friends that call me out when I need rest and do what they can to help me get it.
There’s Not: I go too long between times of rest. I over estimate my capacity and then fall short when it comes to our son. I’m still learning what it means to rest well.
Today I am thankful for the ability to rest, even when it comes in small amounts, it always makes a difference.