On any given day, I am a chef, a maid, a chauffeur, a doctor, an engineer and very often a UN peacekeeping force, and that can be before breakfast. I am exhausted and empowered by the number of problems I solve every day. Having three kids, one with special needs can mean that I have to remember both the pythagorean theorem to help B with his homework and try and figure out why M is banging her head…..concurrently.
I really believe that we have the power to shape how we feel about things. There are certain facts of my life. I have a child with really significant special needs, I have a curve in my spine that were it straight, I would be two inches taller, which would make me skinny. I curse a lot. Sugar is the one wagon I can’t stay on. Despite my best efforts, I still want to be cool. My hair is getting gray really fast. I was not grossed out yesterday when I said to one of my children “please don’t pick your nose at the table and eat it.” I am who I am, I admire women who are elegant and glamorous. Instead I am the kind of woman who often accidentally spits while speaking.
One thing that has always been true about me is that I am an optimist. In the days and weeks after my daughter was diagnosed with autism I found myself profoundly sad, it rested in my bones. I worried that I would never feel like myself again, I missed myself. I was serious all the time. I went to bed reading medical textbooks, and spent my days in doctors’ offices. I longed for fart jokes, or for some sense of lightheartedness to return to our lives. I thought it never would.
I was wrong, it did. One morning, I woke up and felt a little bit like my old self, and gradually the rest of me came pouring back. I now know that while an obstacle itself may not be a choice, my response to it can be. I never expected to have a child with whom I couldn’t speak, but I cannot let it break my heart. I wake up and know that I will be faced with lots of opportunities for perspective. Sometimes I succeed and make a difficult moment into an easy one by taking a couple of deep breaths and just moving forward. Other times I unleash a string of profanity and feel sorry for myself. Each moment is a chance to be honest about who I am and show up for the people who need me. Life does not always lend itself to joy. Joy is a choice and we can make it every day, and on the days we don’t, we can forgive ourselves and move on.