I’ll be completely honest- it’s been a rough week. There are times when I feel as if I’m raising my family on the edge of a cliff, constantly terrified that the whole household is only inches away from complete disaster. We’ve had phone calls from the school, unexpected appliance trouble and a dog who is mysteriously lame, for no reason we or the vet can determine. I’m not being the saintly mum or wife that I want to be, my sense of humour is badly damaged, and I am failing horribly at the constant list of demands and expectations placed on me. It’s been a trifle harrowing, actually.
However, my youngest child got stuck in a table at school today.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Of all of the thoughts that run through my head: how, when, where- the one question I never bother asking is WHY. There’s simply no point. I had the report from the teacher herself at pick up time and I am not ashamed to say that I laughed until I cried. I am guessing that a special incident report will be filled out and I’m giggling at the thought of the poor teacher trying to keep a straight face while she does so. He was fine- apparently, my beloved son howled the entire classroom down while she and several other teachers from other classrooms tried to extricate him from this completely bizarre situation. I think the funniest thing was that my husband and I could only nod, saying ‘yes, that sounds about right’. It’s a fairly normal day.
Our household is quite full-on, most especially since we are an ASD household. There are wins here that may not look like another family’s wins. Maybe it’s that my child ate dinner tonight (first time this week), consented to wear the school jumper at last, survived a haircut without a meltdown, or that we don’t need another doctor’s appointment for six months. We’re certainly not out getting soccer trophies every Saturday and you can bet when the circus is in town, we’re as far from that as we can be.
There are days when it’s hard, and days when one, if not all of us end up in tears. We’re tired, frustrated with each other, and sometimes it seems like a normal family life is never going to be possible. Now, I know that isn’t a special needs thing. Every household faces crises, times where our faith in ourselves as mothers, parents and as a family is at an all-time low.
I have found it necessary to remind myself of brighter things in the darkness we sometimes find ourselves in. I can’t make everything go according to plan, and there is so much in my life that I can’t control- but I can spend time looking for the pinpricks of light along the way.
The moments I look for are the smaller ones- harder to spot, and yet so satisfying to find. The kind word of a friend, the stranger who smiles at you as they walk by. The laughter of a child, or an unexpected sweet moment with a spouse in the middle of the dinner hour, the delight my daughter takes in pretty things, and the shouts of joy my youngest gives when he sees a rainbow. A really, really amazing chocolate cake. These are things that have brought joy in the darkness, and lightened the load at times.
I’ve always been someone who collected laughter, and one of my favourite things to do as a parent is keep a list of the things that prompt it. You can bet today’s incident will become the stuff of legend in our home. I try to make my pragmatic eldest laugh, and the younger two still think Mum is a little bit funny. I laugh at the silly things I find myself saying to my children- by far my favourite is “Stop talking to your cup and eat your spaghetti.” I’ve had to answer the question of whether Jesus wore pants, (Mr 7 assumes he didn’t) and seen my husband confiscate an imaginary steering wheel from the kids when they wouldn’t stop fighting over it. I am in no way joking.
The serious side of life will always be there; we don’t need to worry about keeping it nearby. It is joy, laughter and sweetness that need to be hunted for and gathered up like wildflowers. In the bright light of day so many little joys are hidden- I have found that darkness makes them visible to us again, like starlight on a dark night. Stars big and small, both the ones that stand out and the faint ones that we barely see, layer on layer to make up the Milky Way.
If it’s been dark where you are, I would encourage you to start searching for those little pinpricks of light. Keep a list of the moments that made you laugh, books that you love, and people who encourage you. Notice little gestures from other people that tell you that you are important to them. And while your circumstances may not change immediately, know that there is a sky full of starlight right above you that is waiting to be discovered.
And for those of you who need a little laugh to jumpstart the process, please remember that of all improbable sentences I have ever said, tomorrow I will need to say to my son as he leaves for school-“and don’t go sticking your leg into the table again….”