“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5
It’s a little after four in the afternoon. The bus has arrived. The routine questions have been asked, and the usual answers have been given.
Then it begins.
We have lasted a good few weeks without an afternoon meltdown. We have an afternoon routine established for Hunter that alleviates the need to throw himself on the ground outside. However, the snow days we have had recently has thrown a wrench into our perfectly planned afternoon routine.
And so a meltdown begins to brew. All over a donut. A donut I said we would get one day. Today, of course, had to be that day.
And so, my afternoon home with my children begins with picking Hunter up off the frozen solid ground.
I have mentioned before that Hunter has autism. Although a mild form, Hunter is still a creature of habit. Many odd and sometimes tiring habits. Habits he refuses to break, and those we wouldn’t want to break. He also remembers EVERY thing. Things from years ago, and of course trips to Dunkin Donuts. Unfortunately, the sweet, happy-go-lucky youngster most people see turns into a screaming, kicking, stomping monster when habits or routines are broken, or when something he thinks should happen today, tomorrow, or next week does not.
It is often adhering to these habits and routines that can wear a parent down.
It’s often the screaming, kicking, stomping monster that makes a parent want to throw in the towel. Makes us remind God that we didn’t exactly sign up for this when we decided to have kids.
Sometimes, taming and calming the monster in our home is just plain exhausting.
Sometimes, I admit it. This little boy can make me angry. He can wear on my patience. On my nerves.
And on most of these afternoons, I just feel alone.
I am genuinely glad that most people do not see the Hunter I see on many afternoons. I am glad most see the sweet, happy, and free little boy that for the most part he is, but sometimes, the fact that others get to see this side of my little boy also makes me angry. It makes me feel defeated.
It makes me feel alone.
It’s hard for people to understand when he is acting out in a grocery store because they don’t have banana yogurt, or because he has reached his two store limit. When he has fallen on the floor in a fit in the middle of the church. When he grunts and walks the other way when someone speaks to him.
It’s hard for people to understand just what I went through from the time the bus arrives to the time dinner is put on the table, especially if there are no Ramen Noodles (which we have to go to the grocery store and get NOW). No one else sees the many times I have had to restrain him so he won’t hit himself or bang his head. No one has had to witness his lying down in the middle of the street simply because I touched him. No one has had to listen to 20 minutes of screams that not even Hunter understands.
I’m glad no one has had to see this side of the monster in our home.
But, it doesn’t mean that on many days, I don’t feel alone.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. Psalm 23:4
Yet, I don’t have to feel alone, because I have this assurance from God that he is always with me.
He’s right there with me as I carefully place the laminated school busses back on the fridge door. He’s right there with me as I explain he misunderstood. That we were not going to Dunkin Donuts today.
He is there with me each and every time I have had to pick both he and I up off the bedroom floor.
He is here with me when I just don’t know if I can handle another afternoon like the one before.
When I am mad. When I am afraid. When I am ready to throw in the towel. When I am feeling that no one is there who understands or really gets it.
He lets me know I am never alone.