Yesterday I took a little road trip to meet with my November bride at her gorgeous wedding venue. It was a great planning meeting and we really "got" each other. It is always my intention to serve everyone equally but sometimes there's just a special kind of chemistry between myself and the couple I am photographing. It's kind of a rare thing - and it always makes the job go beautifully.
After hashing over all of the fun wedding photo details we got onto the subject of my boys (happens every time). I was so refreshed to see her face light up when our conversation turned to K, autism, CP, and epilepsy.
"Oh, he must be a pretty neat guy". It wasn't patronizing or forced at all. Cause I have this radar of such things and I know the difference quite well.
He is a neat boy. And sometimes I get frustrated in the day to day and forget the privilege. And much of the time I get flat looks of pity when people who don't know me initially realize that I have a child who has special needs.
It kind of changes the view. It changes the perspective.
But this family - they had sincere questions and uplifting comments. They shared about a family member with autism and how great he was. They spoke in both a respectful and yet matter of fact tone. I realized how refreshing it was to neither be pitied or regarded a saint. My parenting gig deserves neither.
Sometimes I am the one who distorts my parenting gig as something to be pitied or sainted. And that's kind of gross. While it is not my intention to base my perspectives on how other people view what I do, I think we all fall into that to some extent.
My experience yesterday made me think about how blessed I am. I don't always have that positive experience with acquaintances, but for every pitied look or awkward response, I have a solid foundation of care and support to fall back on.
I am overwhelmed with thankfulness when my hard seems harder than everyone else's hard (this is an actual conversation I had with a friend over coffee a couple of weeks ago - that many ridiculous uses of the word hard and all). You know how sometimes there's just an increased awareness of how much we need our people? Being a parent can really highlight that. Being the parent of a child with special needs can beg a certain amount of support and reassurance. If I didn't have my peeps, I would surely want to crawl in a hole some days. And just get pretty comfy in that hole.
It's a given that my biggest support here is the one parenting with me. We are 100% in this together. My Dave and I. We enter into a rather sacred celebration and confusion over all of this. There's alot of unexpected and I'm so glad I don't have to know this journey without him.
My mom and mother in law are very foundational to the support holding me up. From day one, they have been there.
But I also have this network of girls. They are important to me on many levels - however, I find their support specifically helpful as I navigate parenting K.
Dala doesn't even have to say much because she's living it and there's just an intrinsic knowing.
"You can do this"
Emily's voice is quiet but laced with great strength. Really one of the most influential - telling me to stick with the hard, everyone has hard, and our ministry to our family is #1.
Kathy's voice has been with me for several years and she's always willing to listen - no matter what.
"Share your struggles, be real, don't give up"
Rachel, Joy, and Sarah are further away, but their voices are with me because they fill important parts of my heart and my parenting adventure.
"Hang in there" "God's got this" "Don't you dare try to do this on your own"
My sister Trish leads me by example and is one of my biggest cheer leaders.
"Do what doesn't make sense to bring glory to a God whose ways are higher"
My newer people - like Megan, Sara, Steph, Janelle, Kate, and Rikki stand with me in prayer at the drop of a hat. They've jumped in with practical help without batting an eye and have never made me feel bad for needing it.
Kristin and I have hung on by a thread together and she shows me that sometimes a good laugh and a (few) cup(s) of coffee can change a perspective when things are hard.
"We'll make it"
Hannah's not a mom - but I've never experienced someone, in such a different stage of life as me, get it like she does. She sincerely cares and prays me through the hard.
The list goes on.... I could never even begin to write an all inclusive list.
And they show me that my K - he is a privilege. They have time for him. They value his life. They value my responsibilities. They take the time. They believe that every life is precious - and it's not a bumper sticker kind of of belief.
They don't leave when I sit on the floor and hardly have the strength to raise my head. Most of them have seen me hold K down while he melts down. Sometimes they have watched him lash out at me in a contradiction to his pleasant nature - and turn into a ball of rage. And while I know it's hard for them to watch, they haven't left. I have experienced some who have backed away from closeness with me because it's uncomfortable and hard and they don't know what to do or say. These have not. It's different and can be very challenging to be one of my people at times. I know. I get it.
That makes it even more valuable to me.
They lighten the mood and clink their glass with mine. They open the Word and repeatedly show me black and white truth. They send silly texts - the more emojis the better... right?! ;) They don't get scared off by the ugly cry, and often match running mascara with running mascara.
Sometimes I feel like I have no one - because that's what human (sin) nature will do. It's the greatest most effective lie our enemy will use to cause us to stumble.
Your hard is definitely harder than anyone else's hard
No one cares
You have to shoulder this all by yourself
So, I write this to combat that.
Sometimes I have a memory loss problem. And all of that ^^ presents itself as truth.
I'm surely blessed by God in this journey and I know I could never do it alone. My perspective changers. My people. My grace givers. They hold my arms up when I'm too weary. It's worth writing down - because we all need the reminder we are NOT alone.