Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Grace and Stress: A Day in the Life of a Mom

Sometimes I feel like my life is so chock full of moments of profound grace sprinkled with immense stress that I can't process either one.  Today was an especially demanding, full day because my husband is out of town so I'm single parenting this week.  Here is a brief description of the mixture of grace and stress in one day.

6:33 am       I wake up to a small, formerly unfriendly dog licking my toes.  We are dog sitting Frankie who was very anxious when his owners dropped him off.  I guess sleeping at the foot of my bed has made him decide that I am worth his affection.  This is a small but welcome little grace.   I get up out of bed to let Frankie out for his morning pee.

6:58 am       I discover that Frankie has elected to take his morning poo on the carpet immediately outside of our family bathroom.  The poops are lined up very neatly, almost like Morse code.  Is he trying to tell me something?  I fly into a whirlwind of deep cleaning my carpet with a variety of chemical cleaners and two different vacuums.  Stress.

7:30 am       I coax my the girls out of bed and encourage them to get ready for the day.  They are unusually compliant.  Small but significant grace.  We need to leave the house by 8:10 so I can drop the girls off at their respective summer day camps and get Josh to his doctor's appointment.

7:45 am     I pull Josh out of bed and he is one grumpy pre-teen.  He is standing at the toilet screaming the words which I usually say to him every morning, "Aim for the middle, Josh!  Aim for the middle!" He is not aiming for the middle.  The combination of autism and visual impairment usually means that I have to clean the bathroom after every morning pee.  Today is no exception.   Stress.

8:25 am       We finally pull out of our driveway after 7 separate trips back into the house to bring out various forgotten items which are necessary for the day; sunscreen, swimsuit, snack, can of pink hair color spray.  Stress.

9:18 am    Josh and I arrive at his endocrinology appointment only three minutes late.  This is a minor miracle.  Despite my having made the appointment as early as I could in the day, they are already running late.  Clearly, these people do not understand that most autistic children are seriously not good at waiting.  Josh inhales all of the snacks that I have brought with me and has moved on to wanting to eat breath mints, the only food-like items left in my purse.  I let my son eat 13 vanilla mints, spaced out for as long as I could.  Josh and I spend some time taking selfies on my phone.  Finally, an administrator walks into our room to try to work out a complication that we are having getting Josh's growth hormone covered by insurance. Without coverage, growth hormone is several thousand dollars per month.  This lady talks to me with a mix of cloyingly sweet words and a strong undercurrent of hostility and blame. She reminds me three separate times that this complication is due to my missing an appointment six months ago.  She also tells me that I should be grateful because other patients of hers have it much worse.  Stress.  I resist the urge to talk back to her with full snark or to slap her upside the head. Grace.

10:52 am     I meet up with Josh's summer school class at at the Magical Bridge Playground where they are on a field trip.  This is a place that has just opened in our town after a number of moms with special needs kids raised many millions of dollars.  It's an amazing, inspirational, inclusive space that is designed to help kids of all abilities to play alongside typically developing kids.  Today, there is some sort of event going on with a band, free pizza and about 50 kids with special needs and their caregivers having a blast.  I drop off Josh and watch him head to his favorite sensorily safe play structure.  The kids in his class are excited that Josh has arrived and head toward him to greet him with high gives.  Big grace.

11:11 am   I arrive at my work place only eleven minutes late for our staff meeting.  My colleagues greet me with friendly, empathetic faces.  I love my job.  I love that I have a place to work and belong that uses parts of my brain that have nothing to do with taking care of children or managing their needs.  After eight years of being a full time mom, I have recently started to work part time.  I cannot express what a blessed grace this is to me.

7:54 pm    The children have been picked up from their various camps, fed, and bathed.  Medications have been given.  At evening prayer time I have to tell the girls the news that the dog of some dear family friends was hit by a car yesterday and died.  Molly was the first dog that has ever stayed with us.  She was our introduction to becoming dog lovers and dog sitters.  Hope and Anna respond with loud wailing and big, fat droplets of tears.  I imagine that this is how the wailers at funerals in the biblical times sounded except that, I think a lot of those folks where hired.  My daughters' sadness comes straight from the heart.  Out of our lamentation comes a conversation about heaven, grief and the purpose of pets in our lives.  During our prayer time, while I am praying, one of them starts to make vague whispering noises.  When we stop to ask her what she was doing she tells us that she was "praying in tongues" because someone has told her that sometimes he prayed in tongues when he was overwhelmed by a situation and didn't have the words to pray but still wanted to pray.  We decide that this was fine.  In that moment, I conclude for the millionth time that parenting is wonderful and worth all of the nonsense.

8:52 pm     I have my first moment alone all day.  I am thinking about how life is so full of  beauty, ugliness, life, death, kindness, rudeness, stress and grace all in a big, fat jumble.  Contrary to what reading Facebook might make you think, life is not a constant stream of joyful, sweet, picturesque, insightful moments.  It's more of a tangle of the good, the bad and the mind numbingly boring stuff in between.  But I thank God for His gift of reflection for it is one of the things in life that help us to digest it and make sense of it all  it.  As I process and pray about my day, Grace wins over stress.


  1. Well written. It is a good reminder that God is always in control. Amen.

  2. Thanks for this, Susan. I am always blessed by your posts.

  3. Susan, I love reading these. I wish we lived nearer so our kids could hang out. I can't believe they have yet to even meet. Much love and grace to you!

  4. Amen. Thankyou for sharing.

  5. Amen. Thankyou for sharing.

  6. Thank you for sharing this with me.

  7. love your writing! glad you can see the humor and grace in the midst of the crazy times.