Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Small Stuff


Blame it on cabin fever, wacky hormones common in women my age, or my need to control all the little details of life. Whatever the reason, little things are getting on my nerves this week. Normally, I’m reasonably good-natured and take things fairly well in stride. Being an autism mom has taught me not to sweat the small stuff in life. However, this week I have found myself aggravated to the point I can totally empathize with my equally good-natured close friend who sometimes confides in me that she wants “to punch people in the face.” As her ally, I have offered to hold the offenders while she vents her frustration, knowing that neither of us, both petite and gentle souls, would ever act on these feelings of irritation. Sometimes just saying it aloud makes both of us feel better.

Last week when “official” groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, tradition holds that spring won’t arrive for another six weeks. Of course, no scientific basis for the groundhog’s prediction exists, but somehow the “confirmation” of the likelihood that winter will continue for another month and a half makes me weary and wanting to punch the groundhog in the face. (Of course, I would never really take on the rodent because frankly those things are creepy with their big teeth.) Last winter we only had six inches of snow total here in Northwest Indiana; this year we have had ten times that amount, along with extreme temperatures and wind chills well below zero that have limited time outdoors. While I generally don’t mind snowy cold weather that much, this year’s extreme weather has pushed me to my limit.

On top of the weather, little aggravations with my job are getting to me more than they usually do. My seventh grade students who want to sharpen their pencils in the middle of class despite constant reminders to do so before class starts and then forget to use those same pencils to write their names on their papers are testing my patience midway through the school year. I find myself counting to ten so that I don’t unleash my irritation on the sixth student who fails to follow the guidelines, and so far, I’ve been successful in keeping my annoyance under control by sighing softly instead of nagging them. This is good.

Even when I’m trying to keep things rolling along, unexpected events can require making changes I’d rather avoid. A few weeks ago, the local compounding pharmacy that makes Alex’s progesterone cream to treat his acne and inflammation burned down in a terrible fire. Although they were able to refer me to another compounding pharmacy until they are able to relocate, I felt sad to lose them even temporarily because their staff has always been helpful, kind, and efficient in billing insurance as well as making refills automatically in a timely fashion. By contrast, I discovered yesterday that our mail carrier has not been making deliveries because the snow is piled high near our mailbox, despite Ed’s best efforts to clear snow from the street near the mailbox. After wondering why we didn’t seem to have mail for a couple of days, I received an e-mail from Amazon yesterday that a package I was expecting had been returned to them as “undeliverable.” I’m not certain why our newspaper carrier can deliver our newspaper to the mailbox faithfully, but our mail carrier apparently cannot. Hopefully, we will be able to resolve this problem soon.

Last weekend, looking for a distraction from little annoyances, I decided to get out and do some “retail therapy” by shopping alone. Telling Alex that I was shopping for girls’ clothes, I was able to escape from the confines of home and just wander down the housewares aisle at Target, even stopping to look at “girls’ clothes” so that I had told Alex the truth. Finding some pretty little dishes in the clearance aisle and a colorful scarf on sale, I had successfully conquered my winter blahs. I should have stopped there. When I went to another store, I found myself aggravated by a clerk at the checkout. She asked me if I had any percent-off coupons, and I told her that I thought I had a 20% one that I had left at home. She snippily informed me that there weren’t any current 20% off coupons but that she would give me 15% off, acting as though I were a liar and she were doing me a favor. Despite my desire to leave the item on the counter and come back with the 20% off coupon (which I found when I came home) to prove her wrong, I took the high road and thanked her for her “generosity.”

Yesterday, I had to call in some of Alex’s prescriptions for refills and was told by the robot voice for the automated refills that two of them were out of refills, requiring the pharmacy to check with the doctor. Knowing that this information was incorrect and that I couldn’t hurt the automated voice’s feelings, I said, “No, Stupid—you’re wrong,” and I hung up the phone annoyed. After doing some checking of Alex’s records (and I am a whiz when it comes to keeping track of records, leading my colleagues to refer to me as “Pam-o-dex”), I discovered that the automated system was referring to the old prescription from August that had run out of refills and not the updated one from December. After calming down, I called to talk with a real person and was fortunate to get my favorite pharmacist who was not only pleasant but also was able to fix the problem immediately. She could teach the snippy clerk at Kohl’s a lesson in customer service.

On top of the little aggravations, this week Ed has had additional obligations with his job, which has shifted the balance of responsibilities for Alex even more heavily to my side of the parenting. From the time that I get home from working with my pencil-sharpening seventh grade students until the time Alex goes to bed, he has been almost exclusively my responsibility because Ed hasn’t been home. Aside from the stresses of taking care of a child with autism, I foolishly add to my responsibilities my own expectations of keeping everything perfect. Several times this week, I have heard in my mind the sweet voice of the late Karen Carpenter singing, “I know I ask perfection of a quite imperfect world and fool enough to think that’s what I’ll find.” Then I remember that not everything in life is going to run smoothly, no matter how hard I try to control things.

Yesterday, as I was thinking about how I’ve been getting frustrated lately with those who are not as organized as I am and with the little things in life that arise to interrupt my careful plans, I had an “aha” moment. The reason why all these insignificant things are bothering me is that Alex is doing really well right now. In fact, he had three fantastic sessions this week with his behavioral therapist and his music therapist. Moreover, he and I have enjoyed our evenings hanging out together this week while Ed has been involved with meetings and receptions. Instead of fretting over what he’s doing or not doing, I am paying too much attention to things that I normally ignore. I’m sure these distractions keep me from truly enjoying his progress, and I must ignore them as I did when I was overwhelmed during Alex’s difficult phases. Instead of being frustrated with meaningless annoyances, I need to be thankful that God is moving Alex in the right direction. As the saying goes, I am now, “too blessed to be stressed.” So, even if the snow piles up, my estrogen goes down, and my OCD runs rampant, I am thankful that God, who is even better organized than I am, has everything under control and is making Alex better. Nothing in my life is more important than that.

“But as for me, I will sing about Your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about Your unfailing love. For You have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.” Psalm 59:16

1 comment:

frtchr said...

I think this winter has really done a number on everyone! I'm glad you were able to find an "aha" moment in the midst of the craziness. ��