Gardening and parenting

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As I worked in my yard this morning, I thought over how like parenting gardening can be.

My lawn isn’t that big, but it’s hard work. In some places the grass is so thick I have to almost lift the little mower over the mounds. And the weed eater? I can hardly lift my arms after dealing with that guy, plus the yard looks like a drunk monkey mowed it… But what can you do…?

Other spots are bald and in need or watering and nourishment. As the grass grows over the sprinkler heads, it chokes out the grass all around it, leaving bald patches.

What if I ignore it? The area becomes a jungle of chaos, misguided and rebellious.

The problem is my yard exhausts me. I can’t even mow and edge in the same day. It requires constant maintenance that cannot be accomplished all in one big work day. It’s a daily discipline.

Yet, when it blooms it is lovely and a place of peace and comfort.

The same is true of mothering. My children have areas of great giftedness and interests that, when left alone, can take over and choke out other places in their lives.

They also have bald patches that lack discipline. If left untended, these areas can spread and hurt their gifts and character.

Parenting, like gardening, is exhausting! It never ends. Even a momentary lapse can lead to weeds and bald spots in their sweet lives.

Sometimes I get tired, though. I look at other families and their lack off special needs issues, their presumed lack of struggles (i.e. weeds) and I grow jealous, which makes me even more weary.

So, for me I must take things one day at a time. One weed at a time. I must also keep my eyes off what I think others have that I don’t (IOW the old “grass is greener over there” thing).

Sometimes it seems as though I only accomplish a tiny bit, but the important part is perseverance. Spending daily time with my girls, loving them, talking with them, doing little tasks with them, that needs to be my focus. In doing this I will see them bloom.

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Pace Yourselves

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Yes, the above picture is my kitchen. Blech!!!

When I see messes like this it’s so easy to condemn myself. “I’m a horrible housekeeper, a failure as a mom, and a slacker wife…”

And I hear so many other women say the same things. Why do we do it to ourselves?

After having a mean talk with myself, I stepped back. Yes, it looks like a group of gremlins invaded the kitchen and brought some trolls along, but I did other things that were more important.

I spent time outside with Rachel, who needed to water plants to decompress from her school day. I spent over an hour in the car picking up kids, and did the host of other mommy things that so many of us can’t name after a long day. I’m sure you’ve been there.

Even though I don’t attain perfection, or even come close to it, is that a reason to condemn myself? Nope! So, instead of freaking out I had a cup if tea.

Take that, guilt! But, seriously, gremlins, you are no longer welcome…

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Autism: Mopping with muddy feet.

From our days in Relationship Development Intervention therapy (RDI), I recalled the principle that autistic children learn a lot by doing activities along beside their parents. In other words: consider the child a life apprentice.

Since learning that, I’ve made a stronger effort to engage Rachel in daily activities around the house. At first she preferred to ignore the world and sit in a corner piled with blankets. Today, though, she is often right in the middle of everything I do. It sometimes makes me smile. Sometimes, though, I just want to get things done.

Yesterday was no exception to the “get it done” mindset. Rachel dropped a bowl full of peanut butter, which shattered on the kitchen tile. I had to act fast before she stepped in the glass and cut herself.

The first part was tricky. Rachel was embarrassed because she had made a mess, so she wanted to help clean. But a shoeless child and broken plates do not mix. Once I finished sweeping, however, there was no keeping her back. Gripping the steam mop with iron fingers, she joined me on the floor.

My first impulse was to jerk the mop away and tell her no. I had to take a breath. My patience had jumped into the trash along with the glass chunks, so I had to stop and think about the big picture: Bonding with Rachel and teaching her a skill or getting the job done quickly?

I told myself to get a grip and let her have the mop. I held the cord and watched her dance around the kitchen. A grin spread over her face. Self assurance rolled from her shoulders. She felt so big! It was so cute … until I noticed the trail of muddy footprints behind her.

Ah, yes. Hadn’t she traipsed through the garage barefoot a few minutes ago? That would explain the footprints–on the white tile, I might add. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. In my head, part of me stomped around. This is so unfair. Everything I do gets undone or messed up. Why do I even bother?

Again, I wanted to grab the mop. But I held back. What would that teach her? One, she would feel like a failure. Two, was I crazy? My child was interested in mopping the floor! Who cares if she didn’t get it right this time. If I handled this well, I might have a big helper around the house.

So, I breathed out and just watched. Rachel looked behind her and grimaced at those footprints. I’m not sure she knew where they came from, but she mopped over all the muddy spots until they disappeared. (I think her feet were pretty clean by that time, too.)

Again, I learned something vital from my sweet daughter who happens to be autistic. Perfection comes with too high a price. When I take the time to be with Rachel rather than be around her, we gain trust and increase her social awareness. Who cares if there are muddy footprints in the kitchen. It’s just a floor. The dog tracked mud in five minutes later, anyway, taking away my clean floor. But no matter how much mud the dog tracks in, she cannot take away the relationship I have built with my daughter through time well spent.

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Autism & Bath time: Mommy triumphs in wrestling match.

by Jennifer Dyer

Most days Rachel loves baths. With the sensory issues that accompany her autism, water is often calming. Sadly, on the days she needs a bath the most, she is not in the mood. Last night was one of those times. We’d spent hours outside rolling in the grass. A bath was not an option.

I used the cheerful mommy routine and managed to get her upstairs. I even cajoled her into my bathroom, but she make a quick dodge to the closet. Then the fun began. Ha… Ha…

I drew water into the tub, but she said, “No, no, no.”

Fine. I turned on the shower.

Nope. Back to the closet she went. And sat behind the door with her weight against it.

I turned the tub back on and wormed my way into the closet. Five minutes later, I managed to get her to the tub’s side…six feet away from the closet. With a mighty heave, I picked her up and wrestled her feet into the water. But she escaped when I grabbed for the soap. I sloshed my way over the increasingly wet floor to retrieve her.

As we were both wet, the difficulty of my bath time maneuvers went from a two to a six, on a scale of five. Plus, hubby was gone with eldest, so I had no backup. After ten minutes of wrestling with my child-turned-angry-octopus, I stepped out of the closet and prayed. Loudly. Then I dove back onto the game. By this time it was: Rachel-6, Mommy-0. In a move a wrestler would envy, I got her into a hold and stumbled back to the tub. Even though I slipped on the two inches of water that covered the bathroom floor, I managed to get her into the water. Sadly, I did not get out of the way, so I also went down…under her. But still, at least she was in.

But wait. She feinted right then left and almost escaped. I took a risky dive and pulled her back in long enough to soap her off. Two quick dumps with a cup of water took care of the rinse cycle, as she was back out, drying off. I hauled myself out and, five towels later, had finished drying up the bathroom.

And that was when hubby arrived back home.

Note to self: next time wait for backup.

On the plus side, I got a great workout…

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Mom gives herself grace.

by Jennifer Dyer

Whether or not you are a mom, I doubt you can handle “it all.” No one can. So, what to do?

A friend called me earlier and said, “You’re not going to believe what I just did.” She went on to describe applying for three jobs. On the first resume she put down the wrong job title, the second she forgot to put a subject on the email, and the third she forgot to sign the form when she dropped it off. Little mistakes, but perhaps costly. Instead of crying about it, though, she laughed. “You can’t do it all,” she said, “and I’m going to trust God that if the job is meant for me it will happen.”

She’s right. She is a mother, wife, full-time home keeper, and a volunteer. It’s no wonder a few little details slipped by. The important thing is to be able to laugh at the little slip ups. Laugh at the past, enjoy the present, and look toward the future. Trust God to take care of all three.

Enjoy today, friends.

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