peach flower

It takes patience to raise a human being. It takes even more patience to raise a human being with a disability. Parents are human beings too, and our humanness comes with “stuff.” Each of us might have a little stuff, or a lot of stuff, but rest assured we all have our stuff.

You will never hear me say that you are only given what you can handle in life. (And please never say it to me.) I will fully recognize though that the life events that we don’t anticipate, don’t ask for, and really don’t want are going to teach us things we don’t expect, stretch us in ways we wouldn’t have consciously pursued, or force us to face our stuff.

But that is not the same thing as saying we can handle it. To say you’re given what you can handle is like saying you should be able to handle what you’re given, and shame on you if you don’t handle it well. There have been many moments in my life when I’ve questioned my ability to get through the next five minutes. In fact, the times when we are the lowest or struggling the most are typically not our most capable, confident moments. Sometimes, we can only move forward in life with a whopping side of grace and a whole lot of help.

On a general note, I think I’m a human being who handles my life pretty well, with recognition that there are plenty of moments in which I can improve. And it wouldn’t be life if I didn’t get plenty of opportunities to practice improving my human self and to work on my human stuff.

In my case, two of my (many) life lessons are learning how to be patient, and learning better responses when I’m not feeling patient. I’m convinced that some people are born with a never-ending stream of patience, while others have to collect it in a canteen along the way and refill often.

I’m obviously a canteen gal.

There are days when I have to hunt for patience like Bear Grylls hunting for dinner on one of his expeditions. There are other days when I’m scraping at the rock bed of a dried-up stream. Still others, when I’m digging deep into an aquifer. And there are times when this mama’s canteen just runs out and I need reinforcement until I can fill it again.

I have also learned that my ability to demonstrate patience is affected by my own sense of balance, which in turn is influenced by certain life factors and my perceptions of them. Factors like having a stressful week at work, having too many obligations in a short span of time, my own unrealistic expectations about Kane’s development, an uptick in demands from Kane or new challenges, or my own lack of self-care (sleep, diet, exercise, meditation, alone time, writing time, etc.).

And I recognize that I am generally the least patient when:

  1. We have to be somewhere.
  2. It’s the middle of the night (this sleepyhead gets a little cranky).
  3. I’ve been repetitively, and figuratively, prodded, pushed, or pummeled in a prolonged, preponderant fashion.

So, what do I do?

I seek balance. This changes from week to week, and often day to day. I know now that balance is not a scale of justice that’s measuring how well I perform, but more like one of those Weeble Wobbles that stumbles like a drunk on its base and manages to not fall over.

I recognize my limits. Most of the time, and I’ve had to learn them.

I recognize Kane’s limits. Most of the time, and I’ve had to learn them.

I set limits when reasonable and necessary. Mostly well.

I recognize when I’m being unreasonable. Sometimes with help from those closest to me.

I choose what’s most important. I accept that sometimes even important has to bend to what’s most important.

I shift my expectations, let go of the cursed “shoulds,” and release both myself and others.

I partner with my husband, Jeff. I ask for what I need and try to give him what he needs.

I don’t chew on worry like a bone.

I look for and open myself up to see solutions.

I let shit go that does not matter. (Most of it doesn’t matter.)

And instead…

I take time to reflect and refine.

I take time to rest.

I take time to tend to my soul.

I let my higher power in to handle the stuff I can’t as a mere human.

I recognize that precious time passes too quickly in this life, so I open up to fleeting moments.

And I recognize that filling the canteen happens in those moments, which consequently also happen to be moments of grace.

About Tabitha MacGowan

Hi, I’m Tabitha. I’m an author, autism parent, and advocate of acceptance, compassion, and love. I believe that we are all here for each other and we can co-create the world we want to live in. My book, Phig and the Eaven Prophecy, is a delicious fantasy written from the perspective of a boy on the autism spectrum. I invite you to join me and be a part of my magical world!

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