Running around this morning, I was trying to get myself ready for work, and my kids ready for school. Mia wasn’t getting up and, after calling down to her multiple times, I knew I was going to have to go down and get her out of bed myself. Before I even made it to her room, I could feel my frustration level rising.
It was nothing she had done; it was just one of those days.
And, while I normally have the patience to handle what I knew to be coming, today I felt tapped out. On top of having ADHD and Autism, my daughter has ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). For those of you who have a child with ODD, you know that it’s a real treat. You almost can’t understand the apparent absurdity of it until you’ve witnessed it firsthand.
I‘ve come to realize that every morning my daughter’s first words will be “No,” or some semblance of that. All mornings start the same:
“Good morning sunshine! Ready to get up? ” No.
“Time to get up babe, Breakfast is ready.” No it isn’t.
“Hey Mia, look out your window! It snowed last night!” No it didn’t.
“What a nice day! You’re going to have fun playing outside!” No I won’t.
“Let’s get up and get ready! You have swimming lessons tonight!” No I don’t.
And on, and on, and on.
When my husband takes his turn and I hear him say, “Alright, let’s go. Time to get up!” I catch myself in the next room thinking, “No it isn’t.” I know it’s not her fault. She can’t control this. She has barely opened her eyes or woken out of sleep, and regardless of the circumstance, it’s her first response. Understanding that this is part of her genetic makeup (Who wants to say no all the time?), this part of my morning usually gives me perspective, a dose of patience, and a sense of protectiveness, and acts as an early-morning reminder of what this little girl has to deal with.
As predicted, we went through the same song and dance this morning. She said no, I lifted her little 8-year-old self out of bed, she put up a fuss, and then eventually we started the school morning routine. Only this morning I didn’t feel that patience; I couldn’t find the perspective. I felt frustrated. Please God, just one school morning. Why can’t she just get up and be happy? As someone who doesn’t hide their emotions well—a blessing and a curse if you ask my husband—I stayed quiet. I have learned that there’s no point in getting upset. I bit my tongue, said my silent prayers (pleas), and started through the motions of the morning.
Today, because she decided that she was going to wear a dress that she can’t get into without assistance, I was quietly kneeling down in front of her, doing up the buttons on the front of her dress when I felt it. Two little arms wrap around me, followed by a kiss on my neck. As affectionate as Mia can be, she has never kissed me on the neck. In that moment, processing all at once how much I love her, how sweet her intentions were, how extremely innocent she is, and fighting the guilt I had for being frustrated—she told me she loved me, thanked me for helping her get ready, and hugged me again. With that, she skipped out of the room, ready to start her day.
These are the moments: the moments that make the hardest of days manageable, the moments that make me so thankful that Mia is my daughter and that I’m the one that God chose to deal with all of the perceived absurdity and to help her navigate the challenges that are yet to come. These are the moments where what I stress about is put into perspective and I stop to appreciate the true joys that come with raising a child with special needs. It’s not always a kiss. It’s when she says she’s sorry for something that I know she can’t help, when she runs to me after school as if she hasn’t seen me in ages, when she looks at me desperately during a basketball tryout because she hadn’t realized there was so much running involved, and yes—sometimes it’s when I get a kiss on the neck, at that very same moment when I’m feeling like I’m not enough.
I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but as for today… I’m thankful for the moments—every single one of them.