I had this moment today. And I sat down with a glass of wine and a heart that feels open to write this story. But I am not sure I will appropriately express. And that’s the end of my disclaimer. See, they’re getting shorter! (the disclaimers)
We were at a basketball tournament for my 12 year old. And my ex husband and I end up in the snack store at the same time, which we refer to in the divorce world as “simultaneous avoidance parenting”, which looks a lot like “involved parenting” IF we both buy snacks for the kids. And we won’t talk about that right now. It’s a different post. But we chatted and bonded over school and trips and whatnot. (That’s it’s own word, “whatnot”. It means whatever you may or may not think of when reading this post.)
And I am in front of my ex in line, and so I end up back with the kids first. We paid separately because that’s what divorced people do. No matter how friendly, we did not offer to “split” the bill. It’s in the divorce agreement. And no one wants to do that over again. So I pay my bill and head out….
And my 15 year old is standing outside the basketball tournament area. And as I walk up, I am met with a panicked, nay, outrageous, shaking reaction. He starts yelling and shaking and sharing with me what his brother has done, his indiscretions, his craziness… “He just can’t handle it….”
So, what this must look like from the outside is different than I actually feel. But I immediately assess the situation and I have already decided I cannot change his mind. I can, however, listen and look into his eyes. And I can be grateful that the external noise is so loud that very few people are noticing. I listen intently while I munch my crackers, cheese and salami. And in case you are judging, when you have kids with extra emotional needs, you do spend a moment wondering if you are ready to deal with this. So the snack was really essential in me not saying more than I needed. It was essential to me being emotionally sound, grounded and ready to lead in the most efficient and profound way.
And I did. I listened to the story. My youngest, Zoom, had taken his usual license with social propriety, and raised its value to social vagrance, with a subtle twist that made the average onlooker feel compassionate towards him. But he was sucking! He knew Mack’s triggers, and he was prepared to poke each and every once of them since dad and I were buying fucking snacks in a delightfully friendly and cohesive manner. I had even asked my ex how his trip with his girlfriend had gone?! Cause I’m awesome!
And then this… No good deed goes unpunished.
And Mack melts further and further. I snack fervently and listen with my eyes. And think of the very best words to say. It is not my job to “fix” this, but it is my job to show up as a parent, to lend some advice, offer some tools for the future, to beat my youngest son silently and without anyone knowing.
BUT It is with the greatest magic and divine intervention that I now tell you his service dog, Max, literally sat in front of him, looked into his eyes and jumped up to put his paws on Mack’s shoulders. I shit you not.
We have had this angel in our home for 2 and a half years now, and he is trained in pressure therapy, but I literally stopped in my mind AND body for a moment. It’s not that I felt helpless. It’s not that I didn’t know what to do. But I can’t “save” my son from his feelings. I can’t tell him they’re not relevant. They are all those things!
I can’t change what has happened. But I can be there. And as intuitive as I am, I often need a moment when there are emotional responses like this to respond to.
Cameras in onlookers’ hands are starting to flash. I am shoving another snack in my mouth. I hear “awwwww’s” going by. And Max holds Mack around the neck. No seriously. Around the neck. And continues. And I just stand 2 inches away as I watch the dog assess and react to his needs. I see the world react to him. And I see myself wipe one more crumb off my dress and another tear from my eye.
There’s no way to explain what it’s like to have a child with feelings like this. There is not way to describe the sense of responsibility you have as a parent as they grow up and you have no way to heal it all. You have no way to give more than you have. You have no way to be everything you need to be, ever. And you have learned over your child’s 15 years that it’s ok, that you’re ok. You learn to accept yourself, your limitations, your wisdom that has been gained so painfully, so fucking painfully.
And you watch a dog, a beautiful animal who sees pain so simply, so easily remedied, and you see all the things you are supposed to do, all the things you thought you were supposed to be, embodied in this beautiful animal. And you wonder if you literally just vacuum up angels’ hair at your home. All the hair, all the shots, the outrageous bills for allergies, the years of finding and fighting for your child who feels things in a way that makes him so special you can’t take it away…. You know this moment you have come to is the most beautiful ever.
I could see the 5 people with their phones, and I couldn’t say a thing. I couldn’t respond. I just watched. I could only be there. I could only watch. This was when I was to sit back and allow the universe to take over. That is the hardest thing to do for a mom of a child/children with special needs. My adrenals didn’t kick in. My heart opened.
There is nothing in the world…
There is no place like the one I inhabited in that moment.
There is nothing to explain. But I saw heaven for my son today.
I saw heaven for me.
And my youngest son is alive and well, for now.
And we go on to fight another day.
To let go another day.
To see beauty. To see miracles.
To see god so close to me.
To tell you
If you believe in anything,
Anything is possible.
All is possible.
Within 15 minutes my son had found his peace again. Like a fucking lightning bolt, like a swaddled piece of peace, like a gift of hope amongst the things that don’t want us to be at peace. There is peace. There is hope. There is love. And today it was in a dog who has been trained, who has been endowed with gifts because of his innate ability to see, to feel, to understand. And I saw it. Just like that. I fucking saw it. And my job is to share it with you.
Believe. Be. Allow.