Almost all the autism moms I know fit the profile of reluctant warrior. Shy moms are dragged into public at a PTA meeting as they talk about cutting back on sensory services, or non-confrontational mom might discover that asking for services invites the word “no” a lot more freely than demanding those same services. Sometimes I even bring myself to look away from the computer for a few minutes (but only if I’ve conclusively determined that the solution doesn’t lie in the Dreamhack Winter Starcraft 2 tournament.) Other days I take a little time off work to make a meeting, simply because she cannot do it anymore.
This becomes habit after years of practice. Each morning we don our armor, raise our lances and ride into battle many days just to give our children what they need. Even then, a nagging feeling remains that we have not done enough, that we are losing control, losing time, wasting precious early intervention because of something overlooked.
So often I can never quite give up my sense of culpability in Dmitry’s lack of progress. Have I given him enough love, discipline and training? Have I left no stone unturned? Am I as thorough in seeking services as Dmitry is in seeking glass Christmas tree ornaments to dash to the tile floor?
Pff. Nope. Never. Shoot, some days I forget he’s even disabled, until I see another talking 3 year old.
Some of my helpful friends and family might say “Turn it over to God! He wants the best for you! I know he has a plan!” But, what does that even look like, “turning it over”?
My understanding is that the foolish man prays for corn, while the wise man plants the seeds and prays for rain. What if it is not God’s will to bring rain? What if my son never speaks another word? So when I learn to “let go”, it MUST be in a way that is consistent with my theology. I could easily stray into moralistic therapeutic deism, if I embark on the wrong path. So I have a hard-and-fast rule when people offer religious-sounding advice: never follow advice that would sound ridiculous when screamed at a martyr.
So yes, things are currently starting to slip out of our grasp. Our ABA therapist, who was the only one willing to come to our area, is bowing out soon. The wife is looking to take up the duties for now to keep Dmitry on schedule and hopefully preserve some of the progress he made. We’ll keep up the fight, even with a cracked lance and dented armor.
To put it simply, I do not accept that “what I want these days” is God’s Will. When Jesus knelt in Gethsemane, casting about desperately for a way out, fearful of the events that follow, begging his loving Father to “take this cup from me”, he prayed: “Not my will but yours be done.”
Letting go isn’t just quitting. It isn’t offering an offhand prayer and dusting off your hands: “That takes care of that!” is what I won’t say. Work is good. I won’t ever let go of my love for Dmitry, my high hopes for him, or my advocation on his behalf.
It’s praying: “Not my will oh Lord but yours.” I can plant the seeds, but I can never bring the rain. Releasing this control, which I truly never had, isn’t giving up. So you keep fighting, you keep dragging that till across the soil, and you keep praying. But you release every missed opportunity, every lazy day, every frustrating setback. You keep working because work is good, but you fully understand that God wants what’s best for you, but some days what’s best for you isn’t halcyon days of contentment and happiness. Sometimes, steel must be forged in fire.
In releasing the guilt, the shortcomings, the failures… there you will find freedom. “Come unto me ye weary and heavily burdened. I will give you rest.” At the crux of perfect justice and perfect mercy, the center of that cross, there you lay all those ridiculous failures: there you are free.