I love this photo. Believe it or not, it says a lot about our family, the good, bad, and the tug at the heartstrings.
For one thing, our oldest boy is not in the shot– this was taken while he was still in San Francisco; one of those growing-up and family dynamics-change things that’s both good and hard on the heartstrings. For everyone.
For another, even tho’ behind the scenes it was being a hard day on my spectrum family (formal photo ops are rare, seldom end with everyone smiling at the same time and almost always end with at least one meltdown, This one ended with 3, no 4.) Still, they all buried their stress during the moments the camera was on, not out of love of the camera- but love for me. What a gift it is to have a whole bunch of friends who call me Sweetheart and Mom.
And that brings up the point that, like so many families that deal with Autism and Chronic illnesses, the pain is invisible. Like a whisper. (there are many issues that are invisible like ours, but this is the hand we have been dealt, so it’s the one I will talk about.) Just so you know, I will seldom mention the pain, especially mine, or at least I try. People don’t like to hear it, they are too busy trying to float above their own hardships to want to hear about others. They like to hear the victories. But you can’t see the victory without knowing the mountain that was in the way. And pain is a very effective teacher and mountain. So I feel like I need to mention it, at least once.
For instance; I am not on the spectrum. But I was abused badly by school bullies in my childhood- up to and including the teacher walking in to see me huddled in a corner with the whole class coming at me with yardsticks. Those couple of years were very formative, effecting me still to this day. But tho’ it has taken a long time to realize it; they were also a gift. I used to say a prayer a few years back, that went something like this “Lord, I am the storm anchor for a lot of people, who is the storm anchor for the storm anchor?” And then one day I actually heard an answer. “I took care of that a long time ago, when I forged the anchor.”
And that answer has left me pondering many, many times.
I was “forged”. Steel is powerful, strong, flexible, and beautiful. But to get that way; the ore is crushed, or rather pulverized. Then it is blasted with heat so intense that it is forced to let go of it’s impurities, and the strengthening power of a bond with carbon is added. (I think of the Holy Ghost here.) Finally it’s allowed to cool a little, before being re-heated and pounded into a tool fit for the master’s hand.
I also have medical difficulties, I hurt every day. But all these things together have made me the mom I need to be.
I am able to ride the tide of drama of the tiny pains that spectrum kids can fixate on, and tease them into remembering that it’s too tiny to worry about- or comfort in true sympathy the big pains like migraines, or bullies- because they know I have been there and can judge the difference. And because they know my pains, they do not feel so alone. And because they can see this so up-close, they can relate to the things we learn about the Savior. His promise that he really understands and will be there thru it all, is more real to them because of the nearness they have to a living example.
Building our family has been a lot like building this temple. With a goal of eternity, we spent lots of time on the foundation first. I am truly their anchor, but the Lord is mine. And on that foundation, I met and married an amazing man. He comes home every day so stressed to his Asperger Eyeballs- from his allotment of dealing with people and fixing problems in his high-end engineering job- that he shakes like a leaf, and cuddles like a child. Then he handles all the needs of his teens, and does it over again the next day, because he wants the Lord to be proud of him. His testimony is his foundation. And we hold on to each other hard, building our love thru life’s daily trauma like the framework of steel that the temple put in on top of the foundation. Then we build the walls of the gospel around us to protect the tender youth of our awesome kids.
And just like any building, there are struggles that bamboozle the brain. One of the temple wall panels fell when getting it off the truck. Not many on the outside world knew, or noticed the extra time it took to get a new one made and shipped in. It was not effecting the world outside any more than a whisper. But it made for a great box of chips for them to give out as souveniers. So we too keep trying. I keep reminding my kids that they are building emotional and mental muscles during this time in their life, that kids with no mountains yet will have to catch up to sometime later. They keep trying to believe me, ’cause they’re my friends. Someday we will have the profound joy of putting that crowning gold statue on the top of our family temple.
Ah well, time to finish this post before the family wakes and my quiet moment is gone. As a final thought; remember, my forging is not finished. I make many mistakes. But I keep trying. May you keep trying too… with me.