Sunday, February 2, 2014

Simple Blessings

Like any parent, I spend a lot of time brainstorming ways to help my child. As an autism mom, those concerns often require a creativity to meet Alex’s needs. Sometimes things fall into place so suddenly that I’m convinced God has had a hand in the matter, creating simple blessings and reminding me that He is taking care of Alex and just allowing me to assist Him. Recently, I have seen how small things can bring great joy to Alex, and I know the idea behind them was divinely inspired.

In early December, Alex started asking every night if he could see the stars. From an early age, Alex has had in interest in astronomy, avidly studying the planets and constellations. In fact, at one point, he told us that he wanted to be an astronomer when he grew up. The reappearance of this interest probably motivated him to ask about seeing the stars. Unfortunately, we have had so many cloudy nights this winter instead of the clear skies he needed to see the stars. Night after night, I would have to tell him that the stars were hidden behind the clouds. Even though he was disappointed, he never became discouraged, for he would ask again to see the stars the following evening.

With Christmas approaching, I starting looking for gifts for Alex that would appeal to his renewed interest in astronomy and wished that he could, indeed, see the stars. Suddenly, an idea popped into my head—a projector than shone the constellations on his ceiling would be the perfect gift. As I searched Amazon online for something like I had pictured in my mind, I found the POOF Slinky Science Space Theater Light-up Ceiling Planetarium. Despite the funny name, this item seemed to be exactly what I was seeking with a reasonable price, and I ordered it for Alex. Of course, I was pleased that this gift has become one of his favorites. Every evening, he waits with anticipation for darkness to arrive and will excitedly ask if he can turn on the star projector. With the constellations shining brightly on his ceiling, Alex lies snuggled in his bed, happy now that he can always see the stars at night.

Another simple solution recently arose out of the blue that keeps Alex content in the morning. For several weeks, Alex has apparently pestered Ed every morning while I’m at work, asking the same questions repeatedly: “Where is Mommy?” and “When is she coming home?” and  “Is she shopping for girls’ clothes?” While the first two questions make sense, I can explain the third one. Whenever I want to go shopping by myself, I tell Alex that I’m going shopping for girls’ clothes—something he has no interest in doing, so he doesn’t feel as though he’s missing out on any fun. Anyway, even though Alex knew where I was and when I would be home and that I was not shopping, he needed to ask those questions. Similarly, he would ask me basically the same questions about Ed when he was at work in the afternoon: “Where is Daddy?” and “When is Daddy coming home?” and “Does Daddy have a meeting?” (He knew that Daddy wasn’t out shopping for girls’ clothes, so he had to come up with a new angle for that third question.)

As I thought about Alex’s routine of questioning our whereabouts, I realized that he needed reassurance that we were safe and that we would be home on time, and an idea popped into my head about how I could let him know where I was and when I would be home, even when I was at work. I decided that I would e-mail him every morning from work to let him know I was thinking about him and to let him know that I was fine and would be coming home soon. Fortunately, these simple notes have worked wonders, according to Ed, who is pleased that Alex doesn’t keep asking him the same questions all morning. Apparently, Alex looks forward to my e-mails, which not only make him happy but also ease any anxiety he has about where I am and when I’ll be home. Moreover, he emphasizes how important they are to him because every weeknight before he goes to sleep he reminds me to send him an e-mail the next morning.

Another example of how little things can mean so much to Alex occurred this week and involved a bit of mystery. Several months ago, I found in my mailbox at school a Kenny Rogers gospel CD with no note of explanation nor any identification as to who had kindly given me this thoughtful gift. Obviously the friend who had given me the CD knew I like country music and traditional hymns, so this was a perfect combination. I kept the CD at school for a while and would play it before students arrived, enjoying the inspirational songs. A few months ago, I brought the CD home and placed it on the shelf with other CD’s and to be honest had forgotten I had it. This week, Alex found the CD in the midst of several others and asked me if he could play it. As the first song, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” played, Alex danced happily around the kitchen. Listening to each song, Alex showed contentment as he smiled and swayed to the music. As the familiar hymn “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” played, I heard him softly singing along with Kenny Rogers. As much as watching Alex brought me joy, I suspect that Alex’s happiness pleased God, too.

That evening I posted on Facebook about my mysterious CD and the joy it brought Alex and me, hoping that the person who gave me the CD might reveal himself or herself. Although I still don’t know who gave us this gift, I found the comments that my friends and family made to be interesting and insightful. One friend commented that only God would know how much those hymns would mean to Alex and had prompted someone to give that gift, not just to me, but also ultimately to Alex. I would add that in blessing Alex unexpectedly, my blessing was even greater than the CD because Alex’s joy brings me great joy as his mother. A simple act of kindness blessed both of us in ways only God could foresee. As I sometimes get bogged down in the day-to-day tasks of caring for Alex, I need to remember that God always takes care of our needs, even in the seemingly small ways that remind us of His presence, goodness, and faithfulness.

“I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!”  Isaiah 65:24


Goshen said...

Thank you for you article! It is amazing to read of someone who loves and cares about their family as deeply as you do, I think family members that do the little things like you said, are the ones that make the world go round. Here is a link to another article about families that I think you will really enjoy.

Pam Byrne said...

Thank you so much for your kind comments and the link to the article you sent. :)
Take care,