A few weeks ago our church house group did a study on Psalm 18 … one of the questions was “When do you feel like running away?” I didn’t say much but kinda felt I was on a different track to the other folk there … you see, I often feel like running away, I often feel totally overwhelmed and inadequate for the role I play. Tonight is one of those nights.
Doors have been slammed, books have been thrown, clothes have been thrown, we’ve been yelled at, screamed at, physically threatened, locked out of rooms. The turmoil was real, brothers were frightened and cross that it was happening again, Mr GG and I struggled to stay calm and not flip out. And the reason? I had set aside a piece of turkey for the cat to eat and a Junior GG wanted to eat it as seconds after his mahoosive meal.
This is a side of autism that few people see from our family. Most people see us generally happy and coping. The meltdowns are saved for the security of home. Now and again, but rarely, a minor meltdown happens outside home but, generally, they’re saved for us. In a way, I guess, it’s a compliment that he feels secure enough with us to let out all the tension that has built through the day but right in the middle of it, it doesn’t feel very complimentary at all.
Meltdowns happen in different ways … our experience is that sometimes they manifest themselves as hyper behaviour, silliness and rude comments … other times, like today, they manifest themselves in rage. Whatever form a meltdown takes, they are absolutely, totally, overwhelmingly, bone-achingly exhausting for all involved.
So, right now, I’m sitting downstairs in tears. All is quiet now and, I think, calm. One of two things is likely to happen, either said child will fall asleep, having exhausted himself completely, or he will appear downstairs, unable to sleep because he feels so awful about all he did and said. And I struggle. It hurts, it really does. I love my boy entirely, I love spending time with him and, believe it or not, I sometimes think he’s the easiest of our three children. But right now, part of me wants not to have to hug him, or hold him, or tell him it’s OK. Part of me wants to run away and not have to deal with any of it.
I won’t run away. I couldn’t, no matter how much, right in this moment, I think I’d like to. A mother’s love runs far deeper than that. A mother’s love is unconditional and forgiving. A mother’s love is too big to hold on to the emotional and physical pain of a meltdown. I know that I’ll hug my boy, I’ll tell him how much I love him, I’ll pray with him and kiss him and make sure he knows he’s safe in my heart.
I’ve been trying to write about Day 27 of the Love Dare for ages. I’ve started and scrapped several posts unhappy with the content of them, unhappy with what I was writing. Tonight, writing has been easy, cathartic. I find it difficult to truly let people in to see what life is like in GGHQ, I prefer to focus on the positives, the good times and my own weaknesses, I don’t like to share the struggles that autism brings to our home. I don’t want people to think badly of the beautiful, funny, charming, dismissive, feisty bundle of contradiction that I love so much and (nearly always) delight in parenting. But here it is, raw, open … tonight isn’t a one off, I’ve no idea when the next meltdown will occur, what will trigger it, nor what form it will take but it will happen, and each one is a little more scary than the last … for him and for me.
The subject of the Love Dare today is being satisfied in God and not solely finding our identity in our children. The thought makes me smile as, for the first 19 years of my life I was known as “the Pastor’s daughter”, I didn’t mind being the Pastor’s daughter but I was ME, I had my own identity and wanted people to know me for me. When I left home I delighted in my anonymity … I was just me, and I loved it.
Now, however, I’m known as Mr GG’s wife, Son Nos 1-3’s Mum, Grandad GG’s daughter in law, and, Gran & Grandpa GG’s daughter but I’m also known for being me … and I’m content with that. I’m happy with the hats I wear but the hat I love the most is the one of being a Child of God. I love that my safe, secure place is resting in the arms of God, protected by his shadow (a wee reference to Ps 91:1, my comfort verse) and I’m grateful for all that God has done for me.
In these weeks leading up to Easter there has been discussion around our table about the sacrifice God made for us, allowing his son to be killed to save us. We’ve talked about Lent and why people give up things as a reminder of the sacrifice that was made … the end result is that, as a family, we’ve given up games consoles and tablets (only fair to add tablets, as Mr GG and I don’t use the games consoles). I’m pleased that the boys have been willing to do this, it’s a huge sacrifice for them but they’ve not complained and are entering into it well.
So, the dare for today was to read Matthew 11:28-30 and ask God to help me find ways to walk closer to him. It’s a continual journey for me … my Christian walk never ends, I’m always moving and I can honestly say, that I want nothing more for my children than that they grow to know God more in their own lives, and live the lives that he wants for them.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)