Parenthood, by definition, demands a certain amount of flexibility. We all know that kids- and life in general- seem to have their own opinions on what should happen, where and when.
This is all the more true when you are parenting a kiddo with special needs; and exponentially more so when that special need is autism.
For those less familiar with autism, one of the dominant characteristics is that children on the spectrum thrive on routine and consistency. Of course, life is seldom consistent, thus making this a feat much harder to predict than one would expect. A simple deviation can- and usually does- lend itself to a domino effect of epic proportions, sometimes for the better and sometimes not so much.
In order to survive, you have to learn quickly how to roll with the punches. If everyone comes out no worse for the wear, then you chalk it up to as a good day. But, like in boxing, attitude is half the battle.
As someone who has been diagnosed as OCD, this is a daily struggle for me...but I am learning. Today was one of those days where I won that battle...based solely on the decision that it would be a good day, no matter what.
A few days ago, Jason decided that I needed a break. Knowing that a real break away wasn't feasible, due in large part to a super attached, breastfeeding baby, he planned a super fun day of family time mixed in with relaxation.
The day had an itinerary- probably the first sign that very little would go as planned.
The first item on the agenda was letting me sleep in and having breakfast served in bed. On a perfect day, that would have happened. Sadly, Charlie- the demanding ginger that she is- had another plan in mind. She awoke, early by even her standards, with a teething induced fever. So my sleep in was cut short as I nursed her calm. But a lovely breakfast was served to me, in the recliner, as I enjoyed a pvr'd episode of Next Top Model. Not quite the plan, but winning nonetheless.
Our next event was a morning of fun adventures at the John Janzen Nature Centre. Having never been before, this item had been on my bucket list for years. So we packed the kids up and took them out.
A month of sleeplessness has been playing havoc with Sam's mood, so we were literally navigating a minefield almost the entire time. But, we did manage to catch a glimpse of the steam train rolling by, which I know brought my kiddo tremendous joy. Were there meltdowns? Sure. But overall, he seemed to enjoy the experience. Another win.
Heading home for naptime, Sam fell asleep in the car. No biggie, right? Wrong. He failed to transition out from the car to the bed, resulting in a nap delay of almost two hours. Finally, Jason took him for another drive while I attended to the teething soul-sucker. But, we finally got her napped and, when Jason returned with Sam, he was out cold too. Both kids sleeping, albeit in unusual circumstances? Win.
For the next step in our adventure, we were supposed to head off for a bit of retail therapy followed by a family swim. Swimming usually goes very smoothly and helps Sam regulate his senses for the evening wind down, so it was a good activity to follow his sensitive morning.
Since Sam was still asleep in the car, our retail therapy turned into me rushing into the store to buy a new outfit while dad worked hard at keeping the baby entertained in her car seat. It was rushed, and I didn't try it on. But I got it home and it fits. So what do we call that? You guessed it: winning.
Swimming went pretty much as smoothly as we'd hoped, with both kids enjoying the activity immensely. Once we'd wrapped up, it was time to head over to Mamelie's (aka "I don't DO "Grandma") to drop off a happy little Sam-Sam a sleep over, his very favourite thing in the world.
By this time, we were running a fair amount late (according to our "itinerary") so we rushed home to change for dinner. I got all dolled up just in time for Charlie to have an epic teething meltdown. We knew that it would be unfair to her (and the other restaurant guests) to go out again with her in this state, so I nursed her to sleep while Jason made some cocktails and called up the fancy restaurant to order our dinner to go.
So now, I am waiting for my husband to return with our Styrofoam packages containing meats too fine to ever be places in Styrofoam. I've set the table with our finest china. I've decanted a nice bottle of red and I am perusing the movies on Video On Demand to mimic as closely as possible what used to be called " Date Night".
It's been an usual day, and I'm not sure I could call it relaxing. My house is trashed and I am bone tired.
BUT...I spent a day with the three people I love the most in the world. I laughed a lot. I watched my husband do some exceptional parenting. I watched my kids faces lit up in glee at the sound of trains and running water. I got some sunshine in. And everyone is going to bed happy, healthy and feeling loved.
So yes, despite the craziness and despite the ups and downs, today was a great day. It was the kind of day that life was made for, full of little joys and surprises. It was a day that confirmed everything I believe in, in terms of family, parenting and perspective. It was a day that I was grateful to be alive.
And that, my friends, is the very definition of winning.