When you are young and you think of the word “Surprise,” all sorts of warm, happy feelings surface. As you get older, surprises lose a lot of their appeal. Your world probably teeters on a brink of total annihilation at all times. Kids get sick when you have an important deadline at work. Car tires go flat. Your husband decides to go ahead and buy that car mod he has been obsessing over. Water heaters break. Surprise!
Spontaneity, loosey-goosey, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants all become potty words.
Having kids means you will always have a large amount of surprise in your life. But if you are like me, you will still enter into every situation with about 50 different possible scenarios already played out in your mind and you will know what your response to each possible outcome will be. This is why diaper bags are so very, very large and overstuffed. If someone asked you why you had three different types of character band-aids in your bag, you would be able to give a detailed synopsis of all the different possibilities that would either arrive at you using Angry Birds over Spongebob or Spongebob over Mickey Mouse, etc.
Why does it matter? Because we want to turn our sad, crying little boy into a happy, smiling one. This does not mean that we spoil our children or do not push them to greater heights. But when it comes to scrapped knees, a little extra loving is standard operating procedure.
In fact, while we are pushing our children to be better, to learn more, and to grow, our children are teaching us the same lessons. Putting Tyler in a new environment or situation is very hard on me, sometime I fear it is more hard on me than it is on him. So by asking him to learn to do something new, I am also be forced to do so myself. And there are times that he leaves me behind in the dust. There are times he is the bigger person, the braver person.
I would not be the person I am today without my children. When I was pregnant with Tyler I worried that I would love my husband less when Tyler came because I felt like my heart was already so full. But when Tyler was born, I had a different heart. A new heart. A heart that was so much bigger and capable of so much more. As Tyler, and then Ash, came into our lives, I had to learn to do everything differently. But instead of doing everything just for myself, I am doing it for the whole family. When we started our extremely difficult journey with Tyler and his autism, we were doing it alone. Now we are doing it for our community.
I have had to learn to take the bad surprises and roll with them. Yes, they suck and they do always come in at least threes. But having had to live through so many of them, I know that life goes on and if you let yourself get stuck on them, you will not be able to see the good things that happen in between.
I have also learned to find joy in the good surprises again. I have learned how to laugh with spontaneity again. I have learned to allow a little loosey-goosey back into my life. I have included a picture with this blog showing you a moment of surprise from this weekend. A moment when Tyler showed me that he is capable of reaching out and embracing life. That autism is part of who he is, but it does not have complete control over my little joyful boy. It is also a moment I was able to give to Ash. Something I knew he would love, but I have a hard time giving him in the situation we are in right now. Thank you to my parents for helping make this perfect, surprising moment happen!
If you would like to help me in my journey to improve the lives of autistic children, please consider a donation to my Arkansas 5K Walk Now for Autism Speaks walk fund.
Help me bring back the magic of joy and spontaneity and good surprises to loving families going through a difficult time.
From my heart,
(c) Rachel Flinchum 7/14/2013