We built and moved into our house almost 15 years ago. While neither big, nor fancy, I had envisioned it being a place that would be as attractive and nice as we could make it. I had a pretty good career then, and while our budget wasn’t limitless, we could definitely afford a large majority of our wishes. In my mind there would be nice furniture (mostly in white like they have in all the Southern Living dream homes), plush towels (monogrammed of course), long stemmed wine glasses, a well-kept lawn, and all-around sense of serenity, calmness, and peace. I could see us hosting dinner parties with friends while our perfectly behaved and flourishing children showed off all their talents.
So how is my original dream holding up 15 years later? Well, there’s an old blanket covering my couch to keep it safe from the dog and cat (and the couch is also brown – best decision ever when you have a boy) and my towels are holding on by a thread (see what I did there?). We do keep our grass mowed, but it requires about 30 minutes of pre-cutting activities that include moving all the basketballs, frisbees, bats, and baseballs. The closest thing we’ve had to a dinner party in years is when Collier used to have his Christmas cookie decorating party. Which is probably about the same time we last had adults that weren’t blood relatives in our house. I do still have the long stem glasses; they are currently collecting dust and I’m pretty sure the last time they were used was for Collier’s New Year’s Even Grinch punch in 2019.
And that career? Gone now. In 2012 I became one of the numerous of special needs parents who left the full-time workforce in order to give my son additional support. I’m extremely lucky I was able to do it, but it definitely required some lifestyle adjustments. I worked part-time from home for a few years but last year we realized as he is getting older, he needs more support and attention. So now I’m completely out of the workforce until we can get this new stage figured out. Yet more lifestyle adjustments.
As for serenity and calmness….. 😊😊😊I’m honestly not sure anyone with kids actually has these, but I think their absence in a special needs house reaches an entirely different level. Our house can go from relative stillness to utter pandemonium because we’re out of pizza bagels, or our favorite pair of underwear is in the dirty clothes, or plans change. And do not get me started on what happens when Netflix takes a favorite show off. And in these cases, I’m not talking about a storm that blows through quickly, this can be a hurricane that stays and brews for days. We still have to talk him down from getting upset about Phineas and Ferb not being on Netflix anymore, and it’s been gone for a few years. Somedays between autism, homeschool, pets, a never-ending to-do list, and a packed schedule it can feel like we are teetering on the verge of total chaos. Oh, who am I kidding? Most days we do a running swan dive over the edge.
But what about peace? Now that I have. After reading the last three paragraphs you may be thinking, yeah right. But to me, peace is not something you get, it’s something you create. Something you are. And in today’s out of control world, it’s something you cannot live without. I can look at so many things that have happened to me in my life and see how my past was perfectly ordered and arranged to get me to exactly where I need to be today. Do I know what’s going to happen tomorrow? Nope, but I’m finally to the point where that’s ok to.
I know a lot of people who have no peace right now because they are constantly worrying about a million “what ifs” about tomorrow. There’s really no arguing about it, right now is a scary time in our world. And while I know I should probably insert a very spiritual Bible verse about the future, instead I feel the need to quote Hagrid in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, “What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does.” I can’t control a virus, the government, society, or anything else outside my front door (and thanks to autism and teen hormones sometimes things inside my front door either). The only thing I can control is my reaction to all of it. Admittedly, there are sometimes when I really feel like freaking out, panicking, and making long dramatic Facebook posts about all the things that might, possibly, probably could go wrong…..but what good would that really do?
So… if a CNN inspired, social media freak out won’t make you feel better, then what will? Well try turning off the TV, closing the computer, and putting the phone in another room. Maybe even go one step further and pick up a good book, call a friend, or (if you’re blessed enough to have one) talk to your family. Who knows? You may discover you actually like the people living under your roof; stranger things have happened. Regardless, unplug for a little while and find your peace. And once you do find it, don’t let anyone or anything steal it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Susie Sunshine who refuses to see reality. I know my life is going to still be crazy, politicians are still going to make decisions I disagree with, Netflix is still going to betray me and take off whatever Collier’s current favorite show is, and there will probably always be more month left over when the paycheck is gone. I know that the laundry will pile up as homeschool takes priority, science experiments will leave my kitchen in shambles, and the odds are pretty good Collier’s bedroom floor is not currently visible. So, what am I planning to do about it? Well, I’m thinking I might just sit down on the blanket-covered sofa, eat some pizza bagels, and enjoy an ice-cold Coke in those long-stemmed classes. Surrounded by my peaceful chaos.