I dreamt about my grandmother last night. We were standing on the small inlet island in northernmost Wisconsin that now houses her ashes in its shallow earth. The sun was to our faces. Lake Manitowish stretched out before us, smooth as a dinner platter. We were raking with gap-pronged rakes – rakes with spaces too wide to keep anything between them. Raking on an island with only one tree – an evergreen that doesn’t much shed its needles. Raking for nothing. It wasn’t getting us anywhere, not accomplishing anything. But my grandmother smiled all the while.
Useless raking. That’s sometimes what this path feels like. Therapy, “To the time-out mat, Noah!,” here is how to button a shirt, “Yes, he has Asperger’s,” HOW much did his psyche evaluation cost?, there is NO fuzz in the food! Futile.
And we have it easy. We have the verbal Spectrum child – the one that likes to make new friends, and save for some well-modified behaviors doesn’t look anything other than a bit “odd.” He isn’t the one spinning plates in the corner or pointing to flashcards to tell us what he wants for dinner. Which is precisely why I sometimes want to call it all off. Because I think we’ve done enough, that any more is futile. This is as good as it gets.
It makes a body tired, thinking of what a marathon this hidden disability of his is. This past Christmas taxed us to our limits. The lights, the sounds, the late nights, the sugar, the break from routine – these are the nitroglycerin of an Aspie’s world. I was glad to have the whole thing behind us. And this isn’t a sentiment I’m terribly proud of.
“Joy to the world, the Lord has come!” Now can we get the tree packed up?
I thought about raking this morning when I woke, and how our path with Noah is really no different than that of the average parent’s journey with the average child of an average age and gender. There is a lot of daily tending required. Child-rearing is an undertaking of lifetime maintenance. It is exhausting for even the saintliest of parents. It just so happens that we have a few extra pounds to carry on our journey.
Child-rearing is also a task of many unseen moments. It’s only when your two-year-old decides on a battle of the wills in the vet’s office when your cranky dog’s abscessed face is being examined at close range that how you parent REALLY takes center stage.
But the Lord’s vision never fails. His eye is ever on us. He sees what is done in secret, and rewards it (Matthew 6:6). My reward is my children – my bespectacled Grace and her “Seven Kisses,” my daredevil Jesse and his thumb-sucking embraces, and my Noah – the one who makes it all so hard and so easy at the same time, the one who has altered the course of our family and its dynamics, but who, with characteristic (and likely, unaware) nonchalance said to me this morning, “I know, I know. I’m the best little boy ever, right?”
And now I set down my computer to pick up my rake. I will wear a smile on my exhausted face. For the raking itself is pure joy, and the rewards are more than abundant.