Saturday, February 4, 2017

Choosing to Smile

February 4th, This Blows:   

...While I try to be upbeat and hopeful, there are days I just can't keep smiling. Ronan looks so normal at first glance.  Strangers don't understand why he behaves the way he does when they first meet him.  It's painful in those moments to either try to explain things to them or to choose to move faster and farther away from them.

I struggle to envision Ronan as typically-abled on my own bad days.  Some times I just want to blow off my responsibilities as a Mom but I know that I could never do that.  I have five kids and they all need me in some special way.  Ronan is my most needy most days as he has many medical issues that include mito disease, autism and cognitive delays.  My life includes weeks that are tornado-like and should have high alert statuses to warn others what to expect...


That old blog post crossed my path today.  I have a few other posts on the AO page, but I'd forgotten about that one.  It's written in typical me fashion - always try, always try to be hopeful, always celebrate the small victories, and never stop believing.  

From the beginning, I haven't stopped believing.  I may stumble every now and then and get down in the dumps, but that's not terribly unusual.  Lots of people stumble in life.  I push through, like others do, and try to put a smile back on my face like I did this week.  

This week was THE PITS.  My kids were sick.  My well-thought out plans were completely destroyed.  Then Ronan had dozens of seizures on Thursday.  The night those came on was the worst.  Walking around with more worry than with happiness, I asked myself how do I keep smiling when there's nothing to smile about?  

Then I saw that post.  Written during what looks like was a mirror-image awful week seven years ago, it was full of similar struggles, similar emotions, and also similar fall-down-but-don't-stay-down advice:  You'll pick yourself back up again, Cat.  Hang in there, you'll see.   

...while most of Ronan's days are full of struggle just to do the simple things - like getting in his chair without falling over, or scooping his food without it spilling out of the spoon - Ronan is victorious in some manner.  Each day he faces more challenges than I will ever know.  Each day he teaches me and gives me a chance to learn more and do better than yesterday.  He is helping me to overcome the pain of what if things had been different, why did this happen to you and why did it happen to me too.  I may just want to blow things off but that little hero wrapped up in a seven year old's body keeps pushing me along.  I can't wait to find out what we'll learn together tomorrow.

As usual, things settled down this week as they did the week I wrote that old blog post, too.  

Making sure all was well before tiptoeing back out in the world again, I left Ronan resting at home with his therapist on Friday morning.  Walking out of the house and away from the chaos the week had left behind - piles of laundry, empty cupboards, mail yet to be read and medical bills stacking up - I pulled out my To Do list.  Overwhelmed, I saw that I had much to do.  

My first task was to get groceries.  Needing to stock up on bulk items, I headed to Costco.  In my own little world, I went up and down the long aisles getting the things we needed.  My cart was full.  With still so much to get to on my To Do list but with little time to get everything done, I headed toward the exit.  I hadn't realized I was smiling as I got closer to the doorway, but my smile caught the eye of the older, happy fellow who'd be charged to check customer's receipts.  

Smiling himself, he said, "I can tell you're going to have a really good day.  Your smile tells me that you are."

Taken aback, because I was concentrating on which errand I could tackle next - deposit a check, pick up medical records, or get to another store, I blushed.  

Thanking him and said, "You have yourself a good day, too." 

Even though this week blew and even though it was one of the most tiring, awful, trying and annoying weeks ever, with his encouragement, I promised myself that I would keep on smiling for the rest of the day.  

I always have the choice to find hope, to find happiness, and to draw on the positives.  On any given day, I face negative attitudes, situations, and outcomes.  They swirl about, but it's the positive moments and experiences that inspire me to go forward.  Sometimes in the midst of a tough day or a tough week, like the one I just had, I have to search out those positive moments.  Other times, they come in the form of a simple smile from a Costco employee. 

That employee had no idea the week I'd had.  He had no idea how dejected I'd felt the night before while I watched my son have one seizure one right after the other.  But that fellow chose to see that there was a glimmer of happiness to be found.  When he pointed that out to me, I smiled with purpose.  
Making a conscious effort to smile, to hope, and to find the positive is much better than holding onto pain.  Pain is a tricky thing, especially when one hasn't yet learned how to completely let it go.  Pain can be temporary, though, and for me in that moment, it all but disappeared.  

I know that pain has no place in a happy heart, so I thank God that I crossed paths with that Costco exactly when I did.  I hope I get to see him again on my next shopping trip.  His smile was warm, inviting and genuine and exactly what this tired but hopeful mama needed.  

xo, Cat







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