In my last blog post I wrote about forgiveness … well, my ability to forgive has certainly been put to the test lately and it turns out I’ve a very nasty habit of resisting forgiveness when Mr GG or one of the Junior GGs are hurt by someone.
I honestly don’t understand why, so often, our world seeks to ridicule and take advantage of those who are different. I speak about autism in our family often, I’m not ashamed of it, not in the least, rather I take delight in having the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of my children. I maybe wouldn’t have chosen this path for their lives (or mine if I’m totally honest) but this is the path we’re on and, from day one, Mr GG and I have taught the boys that there is nothing they can’t do … maybe their path to success will be different, or even longer, than others but they can do anything.
From pretty much the beginning of my oldest son’s life I’ve known he was autistic … as a teeny baby he wouldn’t make eye contact but rather look just to the side of our faces. He was happy and friendly and anyone who spoke to him was greeted with a huge, gummy smile but the eye contact wasn’t there. I remember those days so clearly … he was a jumble of inconsistencies really … he was incredibly sociable and loved being with people but he wouldn’t make eye contact, he didn’t sit until he was well over 9 months but was commando crawling from 5 months. He reached milestones for walking and talking but Mr GG and I never had a typical parent/child conversation with him … his first word was ‘bath’! And when other little ones his age were learning animal noises he was learning the alphabet and barking ecstatically at pigeons. I was never able to set my boy down without him taking off at a run … outings with friends were torture as they sat and played with their children while I spent all my time racing about trying to catch mine.
I look back at that time as one of the loneliest times of my life. I knew deep in my heart that my son was autistic, but no one heard me so I carried it around with me as a nasty little secret chewing me up inside, all the while trying, desperately, to fit in with the folks around me. I’m so thankful that those days are past and that there’s no secret anymore … and I’m thankful too for those tough days, for they gave me a strength and determination to work with and for my boys to give them the same opportunities as anyone else.
So, anyway, back to forgiveness, it turns out that my boy has been being bullied again … maybe it doesn’t seem like bullying to the other folks involved but to me, taking advantage of the innocent, accepting nature of someone in order to mock and ridicule them online is most definitely bullying. We sat together as a family and talked it all through, talking about how folks make mistakes and sometimes regret what they’ve done. We talked about forgiveness and that’s when it hit me … I’m cross, I’m angry and I’m finding it really hard to practise what I preach. I hate that my amazing lad who takes people at face value has been so hurt and yes, he has been. This is the first time that I’ve seen him truly struggle for more than a day or so … he keeps asking about it and cannot understand why someone who knew him so well would hurt him so badly. My heart breaks for him and I’m finding it hard to forgive. I’m working on it, but, to my shame, I’m definitely not there yet.
Maybe it’s timely that the focus of the Love Dare for Parents today is ‘love takes responsibility’, talking about being honest about our mistakes with our children. Asking our children to forgive us when we let them down, when we’re sharp-tempered and crabby and take it out on them (I’m, oh, so guilty) and encouraging us to be humble enough to admit our sins and mistakes to the very people we are trying to parent.
A few weeks ago a lovely friend tagged me in a post on Facebook … it was a link to a new book that will be published soon called “Different”. The book is written by Sally Clarkson and her son Nathan Clarkson who is described as an ‘outside the box kid’ … I can’t wait to read it!
After pre-ordering the book I had a look at some of the other books Sally Clarkson has written and was struck by one called “Desperate” which she has written with Sarah Mae. I’ve just finished reading it and I’d totally recommend it to any mum who is feeling overwhelmed (I’ve yet to meet a mum who has never had the experience of feeling overwhelmed and ill-equipped for her role). I found it refreshing to read of the experiences of other mothers … one who’s children are still little and another who’s children are grown and, mostly, gone from home. It’s given me pause for thought, that’s for sure, and a book I’ll be referring back to from time to time.
One key thing that struck me as I read was a chapter entitled “Taming the beast of housework” … I felt challenged and convicted as I read and realised that I’m so much in danger of focussing on keeping a tidy house while forgetting that I really want to be creating a homely home. I’m trying hard to shift my focus and realise that this is something I need to ask Mr GG and the Junior GGs to forgive me for. My home is, by no means, immaculate but it’s a home and I’m learning to be content
So, a few days ago, I had to talk with Mr GG and the Juniors and ask them to forgive me for putting more emphasis on what other people think of our home rather than concentrate on making it a warm, inviting, comforting place for the people that live in it.
I spoke with Son No1 and confessed my lack of forgiveness for what’s happened to him and asked him to forgive me for not practising what I preach. I’ve spoken to him so much about forgiving those who have hurt him and I realise now I’ve not given him a good example to follow.
I have made a point of trying to catch myself when I’m being distracted by housey stuff and not giving attention to my boys, I’ve tried to keep a short account with them and, straight away, ask them to forgive me when I’m not being fair, or I’m being sharp, or just not the parent they deserve.
And you know what? It’s not easy but it feels good, and I’m totally humbled by how forgiving my wonderful family is. Blessed indeed.