“I am NOT going to Paradigm today!!” Aaron yelled at me.
Here we go, I thought. This will be one of those mornings. And it was. It all happened last Friday. I’m not even sure what set Aaron on that anger path, but he was on it for sure with no apparent sign that he would exit anytime soon.
“Go away from me!” he loudly said.
Yet he kept coming into my room while I got ready, standing there telling me angrily that he wasn’t going to his day group. But he knew the consequences of that decision without me uttering a word. No Friday pizza. He was in quite the dilemma as he stood there asserting himself, knowing that the further he dug his own hole, the further away he would be from his pizza supper. Plus I wasn’t responding back to him the way he wanted. He wanted anger from me, which would only feed his anger. Aaron was ready for a verbal fight, and Mom wasn’t cooperating. I stayed as calm as possible while still being firm, even though I wanted to yell every bit as loud as he was.
Finally Aaron stomped away, walking up the hall to his room. And then I heard it. Aaron threw something up the hall, where it landed on the floor outside of my bedroom. I knew what it was without looking. It was his watch…..his broken wrist watch. He had broken it at Paradigm almost two weeks earlier, although the details are still unclear. Nevertheless, it was broken and I didn’t replace it immediately. So on this anger morning, Aaron decided to focus his anger on his broken watch….demanding a new one once again and complaining about how much he needed his watch.
Aaron could tell that I was getting ready to leave the house, with or without him. “OK!! I’ll go, if you’re going to MAKE me!!” he said, dripping with frustration. I silently went to the van, where he followed me and then stopped.
“Wait!” he said. “I have to get my watch.”
He went back into the house and retrieved his broken watch, stuffing it in his pocket. He couldn’t wear it on his arm, but every day he had put it in his pocket and taken it with him anyway. Today was no different. We were mostly silent on the way to Paradigm. It was later than usual. Aaron was sullen and still steaming. I was deflated and tired.
Earlier, as my friend Atha and I texted, I had said to her, “There are times I truly wish for a normal life.” I always feel guilty after expressing myself that way, for I know that this life is what God has somehow allowed me to have. I want to be like Esther, who came to realize that God in His sovereignty had put her in the place she was for that particular time. Yet sometimes the place of us special needs moms seems to just be a place of frustration and dreary sameness. We do get tired, especially on the angry days such as I was having with Aaron.
He got out of the van, still irate but somewhat calmer. I just drove away, weary. But I thought about Aaron with his broken watch in his pocket, carrying it with him all that day. He also carries something else with him, something that often feels broken. My heart and spirit. A mother is a mother, forever changed by the children that carry part of her with them for the rest of their lives. Aaron isn’t the broken one, but I often am. I need God’s grace and strength so many times on this road, and He never fails me. But I still feel the pain in my heart, my heart that Aaron unknowingly carries with him…..tucked away, just like his broken watch.
Later, I walked in the house and my eyes were drawn to a very little porcelain figure perched on top of our DVD player. Aaron and I had set it there a couple weeks earlier. I thought of the story told by that little figure, the love it represents.
Aaron had been to the zoo on Friday of that week. He came home, excited to tell me about his favorite animals that he saw. When I asked him if he had bought anything to eat, he told me that he had not bought any food but had instead bought something for me. But with regret he told me that he had left it at Paradigm.
“I can’t tell you what it is, Mom!” he exclaimed. “It’s a surprise!!”
So when I took him to Paradigm after the weekend, on Monday, he was very excited for me to come inside with him so that he could hopefully locate his surprise for me. He barreled into Barb’s office with me in tow, and Barb immediately pulled out of her desk a small brown bag from the zoo. Aaron couldn’t wait for me to open it as he handed it to me. And there inside the bag, wrapped in bubble wrap, was….well, what was it? It was so tiny that I couldn’t exactly tell. Aaron was rubbing his hands together as I gingerly pulled out a little porcelain zebra. Why a zebra? I have no idea. But I loved it. I loved the fact that Aaron had spent all of his money on Mom…..even though I worried that he went hungry. What a special, loving gift from my son!
Now it sits on top of our DVD player, where it’s mostly safe from being broken. You can hardly see it from across the room, it’s so little. But the joy on Aaron’s face when I opened it was huge, and so was the joy in my heart.
My heart, like all mom’s, holds at times great joy and then at times great hurt. As with every situation in my life, then, I have a choice to make. I can’t ignore the hurt forever and I can’t capture the joy forever. We all experience both. But I can choose which to dwell on the most.
I can linger on the brokenness and carry it with me, like the watch in Aaron’s pocket as he carried it there day after day. Or I can choose to see the beauty, hard as it may be, that does often surround me in my life with Aaron. Brokenness or beauty…..it’s my choice. In every area of life, that choice is mine to consciously make. As I deal with Aaron, it’s also a decision I must choose.
Will I see Aaron as a blessing? Or will I see Aaron as a burden? Will I allow my grumbles and sighing and my desire sometimes for a “normal” life rule my thoughts? Or will I pull back, take a breath and pray to my heavenly Father, and then choose to see the blessings? Even at the end of the day, if all I can say is, “Well, at least Aaron and I are both still alive.” Hey, I’ll take it! It’s a blessing!!
On that angry Friday, that tiny zebra reminded me that I do have many blessings and joys in this life with Aaron. Sometimes they’re harder to see than at other times. Sometimes my spirit is very frustrated and tired…..but so is everyone. Really, we all experience plenty of both in our lives.
What will it be?
A text from Atha this morning was perfect: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”