What do you do when you don’t know what to do? When you don’t know what to say? Today, there are so many things on my mind. I have so much to do, so much going on, so many things to figure out, so many appointments all spread out for the kids, trying to get something done for myself so that I don’t constantly feel like crap. Besides all the things going on in my own life, my best friend is going through something that I can’t fix for her. I’m two hours away from her and all I can do is be a voice on a phone to give her feedback, lift her up, remind her of what she’s worth and to shut my mouth and listen when she needs it. I can’t hug her. I can’t hold her hand through everything. And all at the same time, I have to let her make her own decisions and support her no matter what. I can’t tell her how to live her life, what choices to make or what to do next. Today isn’t going to be quirky or witty or funny. I just don’t have it in me right now.
Speaking to the ladies, because I’m not a dude, lift each other up. This world is nuts. Things are happening all around us all the time. We never know if the woman we pass in the aisle at the grocery store who looks like she’s worn the same thing for the last three days is in the middle of a divorce and confused or depressed or actually might be extremely happy to be getting out of the situation she’s been in. We don’t know that her soon-to-be-ex isn’t calling her constantly, keeping her up at night, threatening her, trying to scare her into coming back. We don’t know if she’s living in her car right now just so that she doesn’t have to be in the same house with him because she’s scared of what he might do. That woman we pass with bags under her eyes might be laying awake at night, worried about her kids because one was just diagnosed with autism and she hasn’t accepted it yet. That woman we pass who obviously hasn’t brushed her hair in a week might be working on the weekends, going to college during the week and sleeping never. That woman we pass who looks like she has it all together with her manicured nails and her hair in that perfect style and her nice clothes on may be getting out of her house for the first time in a month because she’s battled crippling anxiety and depression and this is the first time she’s felt human in a long time. That woman with the kids who are exceptionally loud in the store might be smiling, while you scowl, at the noise because her children are happy after a week’s worth of meltdowns and not being able to leave the house. That woman who looks like she just can’t take any more really might not be able to take any more. Ladies, be kind.
In the South, we grow up hearing, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” A lot of parents don’t teach that anymore. They lead by bad examples. They pass judgment on people, those ladies in the grocery store aisles, without knowing their stories. I realize that the world’s problems won’t be solved by telling the woman in the checkout line that her screaming kids are blessings even though she looks like they’re about to make her pull her hair out but would it hurt to be kind rather than hateful?
Recently, while at a store, my son who is Deaf+ (meaning, he has something else going on besides his Deaf gain; most likely a spectrum disorder but not determined which yet) was having a rough day, He had been having a rough few days with lots of stimming and chewing on things and tip-toe walking and OCD sequencing. He was chewing on the handle of the shopping cart and when told not to, he had a mini meltdown. This resulted in a VERY loud negative vocalization, that echoed off the store walls, to let me know that he was displeased. Understandably so, this made a couple of people jump. Rather than anyone asking if everything was okay or showing any kind of concern for the fact that my almost 7 year old was now in a ball on my lap in the floor of this store, I heard a couple of people make comments such as, “Good God, what great parenting,” and, “that kid needs help, maybe you should get him some.” Now, thankfully, the Deaf part of Deaf= means that my son didn’t hear that. But I did. I instantly was angry. I kept my mouth shut and took care of my son, hugging him tightly and wiping the tears from his face as he squeezed his eyes shut and continued to vocalize, quieter. As we got under control, he began OCD sequencing which looks like scratching behind one ear, then the top of his hand, then behind the other ear, the back of his head, his stomach, under one arm, under the other arm and ending at the top of his head again. We stood up, we talked, in ASL, about why chewing wasn’t okay. He continued to sequence as we walked down another aisle. People stared. Some with disgusted looks. Others seemed genuinely concerned. No one asked questions. Had someone stepped over to us while we were in the floor and asked if he was okay, I would have had no issue saying that he was having a meltdown, we’ll be fine in a moment and everyone could’ve moved on about their day. But hearing that I’m a bad parent for dealing with an unforeseen incident in the middle of a store, hurts. I love my kid. I love all of his quirks. I love all of the things that make him who he is. Not everyone has to love it. But no one HAS to be rude. You never know what someone else is going through.
That man who said I needed to get my kid some help has no idea that I’ve been trying desperately to find someone who will do a psychological evaluation with an interpreter for my son. He has no idea that I’ve known that something was going on for years but doctors make you wait. He has no idea that I am awake night after night, researching and trying to plan out our days in ways that will hopefully not cause meltdowns. He has no idea that we’re still figuring this out and that some days certain things cause problems and other days it’s something brand new that we’ve never encountered. He has no idea that my child had to go to the doctor three days before and that stressful situation has caused him problems but keeping him locked up inside the house makes it worse. That woman who questioned my parenting doesn’t realize that I give my all to my kids. She doesn’t know that I wake up at 6am every day and feed my daughter then make sure that the plan I made last night will still work well for the day. She doesn’t know that I try three or four different breakfast foods with my son before finding one that he’s willing to eat today or that he might be on the 9th day in a row of eating the same thing at every meal. She has no clue that I worry constantly if I’m doing the right things. She doesn’t know that I spend all day taking care of my kids, my home, the errands, homeschool my son, care for our animals, do things for my husband, and once everyone is in bed, I work on my plans for the next day, lesson plans, and I’m going to college online. Can I say it again? You never know what someone else is going through.
Maybe this touches your heart today because you can relate on the side of being judged. Maybe this touches your heart today because you do the judging. Maybe a little bit of both. Either way, remember to be kind. Smile at a mom today who looks like she’s having a rough month. Say something nice to someone. Hug your best friend. Send a text to someone important in your life and remind them that they are awesome! Kindness might not solve all the worlds problems but it sure couldn’t hurt.
Until next time…
I’ll Clean, Cook, Sleep, Repeat.