Every year, guys. Every year.
Every year, I think I’ve got it. Every year, I think I’ve planned properly this time and have been thoughtful enough in my planning to avoid the whole “I HATE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS AND ALL THE HOLIDAYS AND I WILL NEVER STOP SCREAMING EVER EVER” meltdown that I usually have.
This was not the year I achieved it. But I did get most of the week behind me before I started screaming at my Christmas tree.
So. Here is a look at our first week of the Nativity Fast and preparation for Thanksgiving (which includes a big televised event for Nora on Tuesday and a visit from my parents on Wednesday).
Nora’s in a singing group that has done very, very well this school year. Starting in September, they went through a state-wide audition process to be among the entertainers who would perform for Indianapolis’ big Circle of Lights event. The final round of auditions airs on WTHR tomorrow at 7pm ET. It’s been an incredibly exciting process, and one I never anticipated that we’d find ourselves in. If you’re in the area, tune in and find out if her group made the Circle of Lights stage (and if you’re not, and you’re curious, here‘s the link to stream the event)
Here’s my little lady all cleaned up.
And here’s the buzzy, exciting promo that makes me squeal out loud a little bit every time I see it.
It’s an exciting process, and one I don’t regret for a second, but it’s not a peaceful one. It’s required a lot of practices, a lot of home practice that’s involved tears and arguing, trips to Indianapolis and carting kids and hefting props around.
I asked myself a lot of times, does this help me reach my goal for having a peaceful holiday with my family? And the answer every time is no. Unequivocally, no. It can be stressful at times.
But then I look at her on stage.
And I see her smile, and do her song and dance, and they’re great. They’re perfect together, as a team, too. She didn’t know how to do that before. All these are new skills: vocal performance, dance, teamwork.
And I realize, this is hers. This is one thing that’s hers.
She doesn’t have many things that aren’t touched by autism. She doesn’t get a lot of things promised to her, because we know that a meltdown could take it away, whatever it is. But this was hers. No matter what light or noise scares William, no matter what art project he rips apart, no matter what movie he has to turn off, no one can take away this song, the one that she knows and deserves to perform. No one can make this about him. Because it’s about her.
And what she’s learned about interacting with kids who have suffered in different ways from her has been very eye-opening and has changed how she treats her friends. Those things, working together, I’m learning, are sometimes better than sitting by my lit tree with a hot cocoa warming my hands and my children playing quietly on the floor, and thinking about how glad I am that I’m not busy.
Some things are better and more valuable than a peaceful schedule.
So where is peace to be found?
I did make a choice with Nora’s choir–we all did, as a family. But here’s one peace-stealer I didn’t choose at all.
This dude was S-I-C-K this week.
And as cute as this picture is of him watching Elmo on my computer, it lasted approximately 16 seconds, and then he was screeching for me to get the blanket off him and nurse him RIGHTNOW. Sigh.
From Wednesday night on, my week mostly revolved around trying to make him comfortable. And guys? I’m so tired. I’m so tired of mommying and not being able to accomplish anything on my larger-than-normal to-do list. It’s been making me a little growly.
That’s me and him, the day I ended up with a slight fever, too. Yayyy.
But I forged ahead, and I persevered with my plan to make pompoms with the kids. I planned to make a garland or two with them, and I thought William might like the wrapping and the cutting.
He didn’t. He wrapped a few wraps around the chair, and then he ran off. “William, come back, buddy! Don’t you want to help?”
So much for Mommy’s fun holiday activity with the kids.
Nora liked it, though, and helped me cut the poms apart.
I felt frustrated and stressed and busy. And as I half-dressed my tree with lights today, and Sammy tried crawling on my back and cried if I didn’t pick him up…and William started loudly imitating the sound of blaring alarm because he hates crying…and Nora chased everyone around with a thermometer and annoyed the absolute crap out of them…I just wanted to scream.
I know I chose some of this, but OH MY GOSH WHERE IS PEACE?! I want a peaceful preparation! Just once!
And then I thought about Saturday morning.
I’d woken up to this.
And I thought, that was peaceful.
Indeed, it was. Was I?
Nope. I was making lists–things to get done today, things to buy at the grocery list, things to consider buying on Black Friday. And how are we going to get all this done? Think, research, dig, fuss.
And I realized, peace doesn’t come from my schedule. It doesn’t come from my kids and their choices. It doesn’t come from the weather, or from health, or anything outward at all.
Peace is a choice. One I make in my heart; an arrangement I make with God.
Now, I’m not saying a person shouldn’t be responsible with their schedules. Please don’t pack it out this holiday season because Maura said that you can have peace anyway. But I don’t think we can depend on the world around us to deliver us our peace.
I certainly don’t get it from having a child with autism, or from nursing my kiddos back to health. If I can’t even find it when the first snow of the season is a beautiful, muffled 3-ish inches, there is not something wrong with the world I live in–there is something wrong with me.
So I will look at the rest of the fast this way: I will try to control the outer circumstances as much as a mother can do reasonably, and I will try to make them peaceful.
But where I can’t control it…in the moments I feel exactly one bite mark away from screaming, I will pray.
I will pray, Lord, have mercy.
Lord, grant that I would find gentleness, and speak and act from that place.
Lord, grant that I would choose peace when my plans fall apart.
Lord, grant that I would be a place of peace for my family.