BREAKING NEWS: Cody is on his eleventh aggressive-free day! Woohoo!!!
Cody can read my emotions even when I try to hide them. He just knows. Even the slightest change in the tone of my voice or a sigh will elicit a response from him.
“Are you mad, mommy?”
“You just sighed.”
“Oh, I’m just frustrated about something.”
“Are you frustrated at me?”
“No, I just can’t get this program to work right.”
“Well, maybe you should just walk away from it for a while.”
“I can’t do that right now. I have to get this done.”
“You should walk away, mommy.”
It’s aggravating when your seven-year-old child gives you back the advice that you’ve given him, especially when you don’t want to take it. There is also nothing more eye-opening. When Cody is frustrated with something, I expect him to walk away from it and come back when he has calmed down. I rarely take my own advice.
It was during one of these interactions that I finally understood that EVERYTHING I do, think, and say affects Cody. There is a very small margin for error. I have to be an exemplary model for Cody if things are ever going to change. I want to fight this knowing. I want to scream “It’s not fair! Why do I have to change?”
Changing is very difficult for me. I’m an outwardly emotional person. Often the first thing that comes to my mind comes out of my mouth uncensored. Not a good trait to have with a child like Cody. But, I decided if I wanted my son to change, it would require a complete overhaul of…me. The first step was the decision to start taking ADHD medication again after a seven-year hiatus. This has helped me to think before I speak, especially in highly emotional situations. It has also helped to calm the paralyzing anxiety that has dominated most of my life.
It is clear that if I want Cody to do something, I have to also do it myself. I implemented positive affirmations and meditations into our daily routine. I started to be honest with Cody about everything including when and why I am angry, frustrated, or sad. Children with Asperger’s are not interested in emotions. They are only interested in facts. This means that I have to give in-depth explanations for everything in a way that he can understand. This takes an inordinate amount of patience and creativity even in the middle of the most stressful situations. It is a work in progress for me.
The most difficult change is letting go of my self-serving, immature thinking. I still have days when I walk around feeling sorry for myself and asking God, “Why me? Haven’t I been through enough? When do I get a break? When do I get to do what I want to do? Waaaahhhh!” But, those days are getting fewer and farther between as I move my focus to things more important than my spoiled brat self.
Last week a very wise person told me that before he came to this earth, he raised his hand and asked to learn about love. Since arriving, he has consistently come up against people who hate him. I told him that I wasn’t sure what I raised my hand for.
“You must have said you wanted to help people,” he replied.
Wow! That really hit home. Everything I have ever done has been with the intention of helping someone. I find myself in some of the most precarious situations because I have attempted to help someone who everyone else has given up on. But, learning to help people must not have been enough. I must have raised my hand again.
“Yes, my child?”
“I want more than one lesson to learn.”
He shakes his head slowly.
“Come on! Let me learn about balance, too! I can handle it.”
“As you wish.”
Imbalance between helping myself and helping others is an ever-present theme in my life. I often sacrifice myself when attempting to help someone else with no thought of what it will cost me. It has cost me a lot.
For years I’ve been telling God that I want to help people, but I just don’t know how. I’ve had grand plans – become a lawyer to fight for the poor, become a mental health therapist, write an awe-inspiring life-changing book – but these paths were dead ends. I couldn’t understand why things never worked for me. What I didn’t realize, until I spoke to the very wise man, was that my prayer had already been answered. Cody is the person I was put on this earth to help! That revelation changed my perspective on everything. I’ve been given the best opportunity possible to master my life lessons – a child with autism.
Here is the song I mentioned in my last post. I made it up to teach Cody something important, but also to make him laugh when he is angry and kicking things. Cody loves rhyming; several times a day we have a contest to see how many rhyming lines we can come up with. It is one of his favorite things to do.
My hands are for hugging;
My feet are for walking;
My butt is for sitting in a chair
To comb my hair.
If Cody is really angry and doesn’t laugh when I sing this song to him, I reverse it.
My hands are for walking;
My feet are for hugging;
My butt is for sitting in a chair
To comb my hair.
That gets him every time. He just cannot help but laugh.
Till next time, notice the beautiful things, no matter how small. Even in the midst of complete chaos, they are there.
*Cody and I are in desperate need after being involved in a car accident. If you would like to learn more click here: www.giveforward.com/keepcodyathome. I would be so grateful if you would share this link with others on FB & Twitter. Thank you!