During Hope’s swimming lesson each week, I take Rhema to the “Family Swim” side of the pool and we play there until Hope is finished.
Last week it worked out that Brandon was able to stay home with Rhema, while I took Hope to her lesson.
We drove to the Y. We walked through the parking lot. We went into the girls locker room and put on her bathing suit. I sat on the bleachers and smiled and chatted with other moms while she had her lesson. I read a few pages on my Kindle. After her lesson, she changed in the dressing room. We walked out to the car and drove home.
It was so simple.
I wasn’t on high-alert like a Secret Service agent, scanning our surroundings for potential problems. I didn’t worry for a second about my offspring pooping in the water. I didn’t spend any time strategizing how to transition from the pool to the locker room.
Without autism, it was all so amazingly easy.
The week prior Rhema had a potty accident in the shower in the locker room. “Potty accident” is putting it mildly. The brown stuff was sliding out of her suit and down her legs. Wanting to hide (and spare the employee who would have to sanitize the place) I found myself grabbing scoops of poop with soggy toilet paper from the shower floor and running it to a toilet. While my Rhema stood there silent, frozen, helpless in a locker room packed with kids and mothers coming in from swimming lessons.
Even now I feel like I’m betraying her for writing it out loud.
But I also need to be ok with saying this is hard; and sometimes “normal” looks and seems so… not hard. I know they are just feelings – the wistful longing, the guilt, even the envy. Feelings I can lay at the feet of Jesus and say I don’t know what to do with these!
I know God will whisper to my heart once again:
I have blessed you and entrusted you with a very precious, very special one. And you get to spend your life pouring yourself out for her. It’s not easy or glamorous or even acknowledged, but when you serve her – when you get up with her in the middle of the night, when you clean her poop, when you drive her to speech therapy every Saturday, when you go to great lengths to keep her safe and help her grow – you serve me! So do it in gladness and patience, and I will be your help.
Many years ago the Chaplain at our church wanted to express his love and appreciation to all of us, so he said, ‘If they lined up all the congregations and stretched them across the sky…’ He paused for effect, ‘I’d. still. pick. you.!’ It was heartfelt. But it came out sounding rather corny and like a backhanded compliment. B and I still laugh about it to this day.
As I tuck my darling into bed at night, I pray again she knows how she has made me a mother blessed beyond measure, how I treasure her, how she and Hope are my best.
I’ve started telling her every night as she closes her eyes,
“Rhema, if they lined up alllllllllllll the boys and girls in the world and stretched them wide across the heavens, I’d. still. pick. you.”
A million times over.