So I've been talking a lot with my husband and my therapist about change and how much I hate it. Really, truly despise it. It's like my son's autism-influenced fear of change was contagious and now I'm as bad as he is. Change has also been the theme of recent sermons at church, so I can't escape it anywhere I go.
I'm a planner. I have been an organizing person since early childhood. I remember cleaning up my baby brother's room at age 7 (which bemused my mother since I was not easily persuaded to clean my own room) and sorting my Lego's very carefully. Everything that goes on my dishwasher goes in a particular place and I've been known to rearrange it if someone else has helpfully started the loading process for me (sorry, Mom). My high school courses were all planned years in advance. My college courses were as well until I spent a quarter abroad which messed up my requirements and I had to take this philosophy class that I hated instead of the religion one I wanted and I tortured my professor and then, years later, had to send a letter of apology since I still felt guilty about it. And then I married a week after college graduation because it was the best date that worked for everyone (but me, but, hey, I recovered from the stress after a year or two). My life was planned logically, rarely considering the emotional consequences, and, well, my emotions would just have to catch up. (BTW, I give my husband all the credit for the survival of our marriage that first year of marriage; I was quite a wreck. We are about to celebrate 20 years together, so God is good and we are still glad to be together. But I digress....)
Let me take you back to the spring of 2006: I am about 15 weeks pregnant with our darling Miranda and our 2.5 year old son, Alex, has just been diagnosed with autism. It was like being run over by a train. A really, really long train. The kind that takes half a day to pass your house. I can barely function. My husband calls Early Intervention and arranges an evaluation. Now, as a now-expert evaluation mother, Early Intervention does (or did at the time) the best evals. But they are long (2-3 hours) and painful. Any parent who's done an IEP meeting knows how this feels: the evaluator holds up the standard and points out, in numerous details, exacly how short your kid falls. Now, they also offer help and support to move your kid in the right direction, but the wound always feels greater than the remedy. You have this huge hole in your heart that's going to take years to heal completely, if ever. Now, it was there before they pointed it out (Alex started regressing at one year but we didn't identify it until 2.5), bleeding and gaping, but I didn't see it. Or I pretended it wasn't there. Or a combination of both.
Alex's pediatrician at the time blamed all delays on my bad parenting and breast feeding past his first birthday. (No, we no longer go to that office. But since it's nearby I drive by it at least 3 times a week and think, briefly, of cursing them. But that would be mean. And I certainly don't want them to treat other parents as poorly as they treated me. My mother wanted to write a flaming letter of retribution when we got Alex's records moved to Cadoro Pediatrics in Marlton but I dissuaded her. I didn't think it would make a difference. I didn't think they would care. And it was done.) There were people in my life who commented carefully about his developmental delays but I brushed them off. But the comments continued and Marshall listened and made the appointments. So we went.
I think I like to plan because I like to avoid worse case scenarios, like watching my father-in-law die by inches from multiple causes over 15 years and finally pass last summer. Or listen while both of my children were diagnosed with autism. That was pretty much the worst thing I could imagine. It felt like a death sentence, which is extremely unfair to all of my friends and family who have buried children. My children are alive and relatively healthy. I can hug and kiss them and not have to worry about them dying of incurable diseases.
Maybe it felt like a death sentence because something in me did die. Some part of hope, some faith, some trust that God will work everything in my life for good.
This is one of my favorite songs from childhood:
And listening to it for the 3 millionth time is bringing tears to my eyes. I always revert to childhood favorites for comfort. But lately, the favorite books have not been comforting. My mind has been too restless to focus on much more than amusing podcasts. And tennis scores, of course.
10 days ago, my therapist directed me to be praying more directly about how God sees me, what he wants for me. And what I heard clearly was, "Heal." It's been almost 11 years exactly since Alex's formal diagnosis and my life was forceably rearranged. Maybe this is the first time since then that everybody else in the house is stable enough for Mommy to take the time to look at why her heart is still bleeding. And start to heal.