When things get really rough, I pile the children into the stroller and we walk. I tell the boys about what we see, I pray, and before she died, I would call my grandmother. She was a farmer’s wife, mother of four sons and feeder of dozens of ranch hands. She was a master at smelling out the ‘bovine excrement’ in life and was quick to help me gain perspective.Walking and talking with Grandma kept me sane on appointment days when I had to deal with a harsher reality than I had pictured.
Today I used all three of our strollers.
At each walk I talked to a neighbor over the age of 60 about one doosie of a day.
First, my beloved neighbor Miss Rita. She is matter of fact and was a special education teacher for decades. She kindly demanded to hold my baby and noticed that I was out of sorts. She immediately asked about what was going on.
I had just returned from a symposium. Despite a week of sessions, I could only attend today’s “Parenting Special Needs Children”. I drove around for literally an hour trying to find the correct Family Readiness Center. There are 3 within a 15 mile radius. It was an Army wife’s version of land-navigation, complete with a 30 pound weight (carseat). When I arrived I heard good information that was…interesting. The highlights were that her plan helped her son had ‘fully recovered’ from his severe autism. I need to eliminate all chemicals from the house and severely restrict our diets. There was NO mention of HOW to do this, where to find food that replaces current eating, and how we can make a reasonable transition, of course. (Telling me what to do and not how to do it is NOT helpful.)
We returned to the diet changes that were recommended; no gluten, soy, etc. When one mother mentioned a sensory issue that involved her child only eating white foods, the analogy to opiates and needing a cocaine fix was made. That isn’t fun for a mother of a 5 year old to hear, no matter how you slice it. No. We only have an hour. It was more discouraging than helpful.
Miss Rita very matter of factly told me to dismiss it and made a face that showed an obvious disdain for what I had been told.
She promptly told me to spend some time loving on my firstborn while she and another grandmotherly friend adored Secondborn and did his exercises for me. God bless her.
After an hour of playing, Firstborn wanted a walk around the neighborhood. We soon saw Mrs. Elizabeth, a darling widow who is as sweet as Southern tea doing yard work. She is a doll and has a grandson with special needs. We made small-talk and discussed milestones and then the seminar story spilled out.
The leader was a disciple of the Church of Essential Oils. Now, we use essential oils. They are wonderful. They help. I was told that after one application her son spoke in a full sentence and asked for his first outing. Another friend of hers had a 4 year old say his first word after one application. Okay, then. Apparently moms who are still struggling with speech-delayed children aren’t doing it right.They are NOT magic potions. I watch mothers drive themselves to exhaustion changing diet and doing various regimens to control the issues their children have. They are helpful and make a difference, but food is NOT God. Oils don’t cure what God chooses not to. After 2 hours and NO medical information about my child’s concerns, I was given a full prescription list of things to do for my children…after I buy it and join her subscription letter. It gave all the people who are using the essential oils correctly to the benefit of others and the glory of God a bad name.
When I mentioned Secondborn is having surgery to get a feeding tube the immediate response was “He needs frankincense. I always have to ask God where to put it…(pause) on the nose bridge and on the neck.” (Seriously, this happened. I couldn’t leave. I tried. Really.)
Miss Elizabeth called some sweet-smelling bovine excrement on that one. She told me a story of her daughter and some success, told me of how essential oils work for her but shouldn’t negate things like SURGERIES, and lovingly sent us on our walk with a hug and some encouragement that I am doing well. She reminded me that there was motherhood before Pintrest and that even the Proverbs 31 woman had servant girls. After a dose of loving scripture-based advice for mothering, she told me to keep my eyes on Christ and to send the rest right back.
After a few more blocks I saw Crazy Mrs. Becky. God bless her…everyone needs a Mrs. Becky in their life and neighborhood. In the early evenings Mrs. Becky sits out on her porch with her dog and a tall glass, just enjoying retirement. She loves when we walk by because she had sons 19 months apart and laughs at the reminders we bring in our wake. She gets to the point, “Meet any crazy people lately?”
I told her that after a neat, surface level seminar and being told to buy the SPEAKER’S essential oil pack I was cornered by her husband and encouraged to talk about the ‘real healing’. She attends and teaches at a church with points of faith that I find questionable. Dang it. She teaches “Biblically based healing that you don’t learn about in church. ” Red card. Yellow flag.
I was encouraged to come to the classes she teaches so I could learn about correct prayers, blessings, and speaking healing over the children. I stated back that you can’t pray away or cast out a chromosome. Yes, God CAN choose to heal, but he didn’t when people prayed over my womb. Clearly my child is equipped for a work that his Trisomy 21 will accomplish. Sheesh. The conversation turned down a path I found very unsettling. We had a little banter about Mark 9 and God using people with disabilities for his purpose. This stuff of faith, God’s healing and theology is HARD stuff, Y’all. This is when the faith gets real. It’s HARD.
When someone is fighting a war and people call into question why it is being fought, how it is being fought, and then tell the people fighting that they are monsters and wasting their lives, it isn’t pretty. (Oh wait…that sounds like the past 7 years as an Army wife as much as parenting a unique kiddo! I digress…)
I was fairly passive aggressive at this point. I don’t appreciate my faith and parenting styles being called into question by strangers. Basically there was a bit of this going on:
Mrs. Becky was loving life right about now. She told me of her legalist ex-husband and how much better life is now that she has her husband who is 15 years younger. She then told me to write stand-up comedy and thought a glass of wine would do me some good. Something about her makes me need cheesecake.
So now, hours later, I realize I have discussed my issues with the Golden Girls. I guess that makes me Sophia.
Picture it: 10 pm. Fresh chocolate chip cookies… a mom sits alone in a messy room recounting the day’s progress and the ‘expert’ voices she needs to drown out. She decides to make some pasta sauce from scratch and call it a night, knowing that Christ Jesus is in control. With a slather of essential oils after bath time, a prayer said, a good word spoken over my sons and a dose of reality given from mothers who refuse to go crazy, I sit here and say, “Thank you for being a friend.”
After all, that is how we mothers of kids with special needs kids survive. The dreams that are shattered by reality get put back together to make a better story. Friends drown out the junk and get convinced of great ideas that work. Comrades show up with casseroles and pizzas so we can get the kids fed and maintain a shred of dignity. Battle buddies remind us that gluten-free is possible but suddenly living Amish isn’t mentally beneficial. Sisters bring you cheesecake and tell you to shower for the good of all involved. Golden Girls lift you up and drown out the voices that don’t need to be heard. THAT is worth having a seminar about…as long as there is cheese cake.