Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Charley's car needs some rather costly repairs and it's about 15 years old.  So before we fix it, we're trying to see how it would be to have only one car.  Cheaper for us, better for the environment and, when Sam doesn't have pneumonia, we'll benefit from doing our errands by foot in the neighborhood.  On nice days, Charley can take public transportation or ride his bike and I can have the car if I need it.  Now, if I can remember to make all doctor appointments on nice days...

This means yet another very large change (I refuse to say sacrifice) on my part.  I am a bird who has volunteered to have her wings clipped!  So for Lent, I guess I'm giving up one more freedom.  This time it is partly to benefit the planet (and the pocket book).  For the last year or so, I've been slowly surrendering all my freedom to Sam's health needs.  We now let him sleep whenever he wants which means he no longer goes to school and he is more than ever my constant companion.  His health is always precarious, so I am his devoted slave and nurse.  The lung doctor says that if it weren't for my care, Sam's story would have ended long ago.  When he smiles, I can't regret a single moment and I choose this life all over again.  

But I miss the world outside my living room window.  Especially now that it's spring.

Second Tuesday of Lent.  Readings for today are Isaiah 1:10, 16-20  Part of which goes:
Wash yourselves clean!  Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good.  Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow.

And Ezekiel 18:31

Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the Lord, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.

And Matthew 23: 1-12 which includes:

The greatest among you must be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

These verses encapsulate a large part of my personal understanding of what it means to live as a person of faith.  Seek justice, care for the disadvantaged, try to do what is right, maintain a realistic picture of yourself and your place in the world (humility) and no matter how badly you messed up yesterday, remember you can always start over again every morning.

How do I do that as a stay at home - stuck at home - mother of a young man with profound disabilities?  

Well, step one: stop feeling sorry for myself.  

Step two: remember how much the world is inside my living room.  Internet, tv, phones; I am in touch with the world in countless miraculous ways.

Step three: gratitude for my many blessings.  I actually do get to choose how I will live my life. Every morning.  I don't get much choice about what happens to me, but I do get a lot of choice about how I will respond.  And a lot of beautiful things happen to me every day, every moment, every breath I take - and every breath Sam breathes.

Step four: don't be stupid or naive.  I'm stuck at home, I don't have my head stuck in the sand.  I'm not blind.  I can take action and reach out.  Actually, I do a lot of reaching out.  These verses and this personal credo are not new to me.  I've been passionate about justice for most of my life.  I may be finally forced to accept that "charity begins at home" and forced to put most of my energy into self care and Sam care, but I can still impact the larger world in small ways.  "Think globally, act locally" takes on a deeper meaning when you don't leave the house more than two or three times a month!

In fact, if I had been able to construct the events of my life and not just my reaction to them, I probably would have become a bright star that burnt out long ago.  I would have thrown myself into some form of activism aimed at saving the world without counting the personal cost.  Being a wife and mother, being Sam's mother, has forced me to slow down, recognize my impotence and that I too have needs.  I am responsible for such a very little and incredibly precious and fragile fragment of the universe: Me and my family and a couple of birds.  At the same time I am part of the human race, and a resident of this planet.  Caring for myself and my family must take that into account.  My focus remains on the small world inside my living room and my awareness includes the larger world beyond it.  I buy plant based laundry detergent and sponsor children in Africa and welcome whomever comes to my door and sign petitions to end DOMA and donate to relief for tsunami victims.  But mostly I check Sam's oxygen levels and pay bills and fix meals.

Maybe all the events of my life are carefully aimed at bringing this co-dependent, Eneagram 2, earth mother with PTSD toward balance and perhaps someday enlightenment. 

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