One morning shortly before Christmas, Gary and I sat down to eat breakfast with Aaron. We were enjoying our eggs, sausage, and biscuits while listening to Aaron talk…always Aaron is talking!
Aaron pushed back his chair and got up to get something from the kitchen – probably more napkins or silverware since one napkin and one set of silverware is never adequate in Aaron’s book. I looked up then to see that Aaron had put his biscuit off his plate. He had set it aside in order to keep his plate from being crowded and to keep the food from touching.
We just left it there, choosing not to make that action an issue on this pleasant morning. Aaron has his particular ways. And Gary and I have learned to choose our battles carefully because disrupting Aaron’s ways can leave a trail of anger and frustration for all of us…and many times, it’s just not worth it.
Such is our life with autism, this matter of what to set aside and what to put back on the plate.
I had a full plate of Aaron issues last week. We had unaccounted money gone from Aaron’s wallet, which means he probably gave some away at his day group. He knows better, but he has a very hard time resisting the urge to share his money with his friends. Therefore, he has become quite adept at not telling the truth, which was another issue we had to handle with Aaron.
Aaron became so frustrated that on Wednesday, he erupted in anger and tears at his day group. He called me on the phone several times…he threw his shoe and his glasses…he yelled…and all in all was just extremely unhappy.
His coat also got torn on both sides. Aaron said that was done in fun as he and another client chased each other. Either way, Wednesday was a rough day in more ways than one.
On Friday night, shortly after midnight, Aaron had the first of four seizures…the last one being at 6:40 Saturday morning. I was fixing his favorite salad that morning, hoping he could enjoy it for supper as I hauled his wet bedding down the stairs and then helped him get settled on the couch for more sleep…and hopefully no more seizures.
Bless his heart. He can’t help his behaviors any more than he can help his seizures. Yet while his seizures touch my heart, sometimes his behaviors do quite the opposite.
I thought about his biscuit as I was processing all that happened last week. What do I set aside, and what do I keep on my plate?
I need to set aside resentment and anger, which is not always easily done. Living full time with Aaron can take a toll on me and on Gary. But God has led us to this life, and we know that He will keep us where we need to be if we just focus our eyes on Him and not on our circumstances.
I must set aside selfishness. Mending Aaron’s coat…taking him to have his bent glasses adjusted…washing his bedding and clothes…listening to his explanations over and over and over… All these are actions that take my time and energy. As any caregiver knows…as any parent knows…selfishness and service do not mix. One must go off the plate.
Fear is another thing that needs to go. Aaron’s seizures make my heart leap with fright for an instant. I don’t think one ever gets used to them. His future, too, can cause my heart to fear. But again, I know that this path we walk is not alone. God is with us each step and He has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.
Now what do I keep on my plate? I keep the reminder of God’s great faithfulness. I keep His Word in my heart. I am mindful of His grace for each day and each moment.
I keep humor nearby, always. A cheerful heart is the best medicine, like God said, for me and for Aaron, even when Aaron gives me a blank look when I think I’m very funny. 😊
I also count my blessings! My plate overflows with blessings if I but look around me. For instance, on Saturday I was very thankful for the blessing of a washer and dryer instead of a bucket and a clothesline. Thankful for a warm house, food to eat and to fix for Aaron, and thankful that Aaron could eat some bacon and eggs later that morning. And Aaron, who loves using multiple napkins, decided that the grease on his fingers could not wait for his napkin. His eyes shot over to me as he wondered if I saw what he just did.
“I was wiping a grease of bacon on my pants,” he seriously informed me.”
There’s the humor!! 😊
Thankfulness, too, for Aaron’s amazing way with words. After all, that’s a big reason I started writing this blog and named it He Said WHAT?!
And there is yet another blessing! All my readers mean more to me than I can express.
See how it goes? My plate is filling up with good stuff, none of which I want to set aside.
Time to taste and see that the Lord is good!