An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

A Lesson Re-Learned

As I sit here on the couch, with my current crafts set aside, my boys playing with their trains and cars all over the living room, and the computer on my lap I am finding myself not sure of what to write.  It’s been another hard day over here and for sure there is plenty I could talk about, but there are two problems.

1) It’s nothing new.  Just same story, different day so to speak.
2) More importantly, it’s not the kind of thing I want to be known for writing about.  It was that hard of a day.

It’s these two reasons that have kept me from the keyboard a lot lately to be honest.  Yes we have had our wonderful moments too, but I have been so worn out and so tired from all the rest that by the time the day is done and I have my computer on my lap, I either fall asleep or can barely remember the words I had tried so hard to store so I could share them here.  Today though, things took a bit of a twist.

Admist all the lack of sleep, cranky and then wound up kids, low energy, tired and sore muscles, the typical daily car struggles that come with having an old van, overwhelming “to do” lists, planning sessions, fundraiser work, a 5 year old’s poopy diapers, phone calls, juggling household and business runs together, and poor memory skills due to being exhausted for too long resulting in multiple trips because I kept forgetting things I needed to have for my various errands today… my van’s brakes went out.

As I was approaching an intersection with the realization I had just turned the wrong way again so was trying to keep an eye out for a place to turn around, the light turned yellow and I applied my breaks.  The light proceeded to turn red as my heart started to race in panic at the realization that not only was my car not stopping, but it was barely even slowing down even though I was pressing down on the brakes with as much force as I could muster.  A deep breath and several prayers later (mixed with a little fear induced crying I will admit) my van finally came to a stop with it’s nose sticking out in the intersection up to the side view mirrors.  Thankfully, I was already going slowly because I was looking for a drive or something I could turn around in.  Otherwise, I may not have been able to get the van stopped at all.  At least not before going through the light.

Being as I was without my phone due to losing my charger the night before, and the fact that I couldn’t just leave my van in the middle of the road like that, I slowly crawled my way to the nearest auto shop a few blocks away.  Praying and shaking almost the entire way, I did my best to keep as much distance between me and the other cars (and the different traffic lights when possible) that I could.  Thankfully, the mechanic was very kind about the situation and was able to get my van in right away.  While it was being worked on though, the boys and I were left in the small waiting room.

At first I was a bit flustered as various things fought for attention in my mind.  Thoughts of all the errands still left undone.  Memories of what it means for me not to have a vehicle to transport me and my boys to appointments, or on errands, or even to the store for groceries.  Worry about how much it was going to cost and if I would have enough to cover it.  Frustration at the seemingly daunting task of keeping a 5 and 4 year old both entertained as well as out of trouble in such a small and crowded place without any preparation for an unknown amount of time.

Slowly but surely though I started to relax and when I did, I saw the blessings.  My oldest, David, was watching them work on “Angel” (our van) and was pretending to have a conversation back and forth with her.  My youngest, Joshua, though overwhelmed badly by the noise level, chose to cuddle close and hide his face in my lap and under my purse instead of taking the path of trying to scream over it all in attempts to block it out.  And me?  I pulled out a rose loom I had been carrying around with me for weeks with hopes of being able to steal away some precious time to work on my latest project for a friend of mine, realizing that now I finally had the chance to do just that.

All the hustle and the bustle and the stress was put on hold.  It had to be.  Whether I liked it or not, I couldn’t leave that small waiting room without my van and I didn’t have my phone or my laptop with me to allow me to catch up on business calls or paperwork or messages.  What I did have though was time, and as I watched my boys go between cuddling, playing, and discovering I cherished the realization that I was being given a gift I rarely get to see these days in the midst of all the chaos.  I was given the gift of slowing down and simply being.

Yes, my van did eventually get fixed, and by God’s mercy I had enough to pay for it (with a little help from my mom).  Yes, we did go on with our day and finished our errands and tasks that had to be done.  Yes there was both giggling and crying, tiredness and “second winds” as always.  But tonight, as I am sitting here on my couch, with my latest craft sitting off to my left and my boys now slowing down enough that they are starting to stay in one place, and my computer screen sitting before me no longer blank, but filled with words freshly typed, I am embracing the gift of a reminder and an encouraging lesson.  It’s okay to slow down once in a while.  And it’s important to remember to “stop and smell those roses” in life. : )

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