Welcome back, and if you are joining me for the first time, welcome. I started writing about the big change in my life that caught me by surprise – raising my grand nephew. Parenting 2.0. Starting over at 54 was something I never saw coming. With the change comes acceptance.
Like many people, after you finish raising your children, you settle into a new routine. You aim to do everything you couldn’t do while raising children because there wasn’t time or money.
I have always dreamed of buying an RV and traveling around the U.S. It would be fun to see all the incredible places this country has to offer. I have no desire to travel overseas. I’m perfectly happy staying close to home.
Another thing I like to do is teach and record teaching videos. I find joy in teaching others about the Bible and various other things. I’m surprised by how comfortable I feel in front of a camera considering 25 years ago. I didn’t like crowds.
But sometimes things don’t go as planned, and more often than not, I believe, life changes in an instant, and the dreams you had as an adult never quite pan out. You’re rolling along, and then bam, a detour.
That’s what happened to me. It’s now about acceptance.
Last year, April 2020, my life changed unexpectedly. Not only did work change due to covid, but my future plans changed. Everything I thought I would be doing has been sidelined and for good reason.
Jaxon came to stay with us last April. My niece asked if we could take him in as she tried to get her life together. Almost a year and a half later, Jaxon is still with us. He is a joy to have around, but as with any toddler, he can also have challenging days.
Jaxon was recently diagnosed with Autism and needs to see a developmental neurologist. When I find out what they do, I will let you know.
With this life change, comes many new things I never thought I would be doing. I have had to accept that this is my life now.
I am now reading books and anything I can find on Autism. I have to rethink the way I talk to Jaxon. I have to make changes to the way I interact with him, all designed to help him grow and flourish. But at 54, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
I joined a couple of Facebook groups to learn more about Autism. One group is made up of over 5,000 members. Imagine for a moment – 5,000 moms in one group who all have one to three children with Autism. I have read so many heartbreaking stories of parents who never imagined raising three children with Autism. Those moms cry from exhaustion and the inability to help their children work through meltdowns, fear, potty training, sensory disorders, and their inability to speak.
We face our own challenges here with Jaxon. For the most part, he is non-verbal. He has major aggression toward the word no and struggles to use a fork and spoon at 2 1/2. He has no interest in potty training. Loud noise bothers him unless he makes a loud noise. He picks his diaper apart and sometimes we find him nude in his crib. He is still in a crib for his protection. When he gets mad, he likes to bang his head on the floor and run into walls and throw stuff. He loves to wrestle with our dog and loves to throw all his toys on the floor.
When this behavior first started happening, I was at a complete loss for how to handle him. My tried and true parenting wasn’t working. I became frustrated and there were many days I asked the Lord – why me? Surely, you picked the wrong person for him.
Why am I having to give up my future and all my plans to care for someone I can’t handle? Why is everyone else getting to do what they want to do and I’m stuck with him? There were many nights I cried or walked around the block in frustration over the day’s events. I was having a hard time accepting this new assignment.
But here’s the reality I came to – who was I to question the Lord? Who was I to tell the Lord I didn’t want this assignment. I didn’t want to do this. It is too hard. Who was I to tell the Lord he made the wrong decision? How arrogant of me to question the Lord. I have repented of my grumbling, but there are still days when I cry in private because of my failures. I ask the Lord to strengthen me once again for the day. I quit worrying about what this will look like 10 years from now. I need to focus on today.
When I got the diagnosis of Autism, it finally made sense. I do not know why it never crossed my mind before but suddenly, all those months of trying to understand and deal with frustration made sense.
Jaxon is not as easy as my daughter. He is a little boy who struggles. He is struggling to communicate what he wants while walking around here like he owns the place. The battle for who controls the house is real. Will it be a 2-year-old or an old lady?
I can’t tell you how relieved I was, on one hand, to find out there is a reason Jaxon struggles and how heartbroken I was at the same time that Jaxon is struggling. The job of raising him for however long just got a lot harder.
I suppose I could ignore the diagnosis and let whatever happens, happens but I don’t think that’s why he is here nor do I think that is fair to Jaxon either. He deserves all I can give him to help him grow and become a responsible adult one day.
The Lord knew.
The Lord knows Jaxon and he knew the best place for him was in my house. Admittedly, there are days I disagree because I feel completely unworthy and unequipped to deal with him.
Jaxon needs a lot of help, therapy, schooling, patience, assistance, but most of all love. One minute he is a complete joy and we laugh at his silliness. The next minute he is trying my last nerve and banging his head on the floor in frustration. I am frustrated some days too but I don’t see the benefit in banging my head.
One thing I do daily is pray for wisdom and strength regarding Jaxon. I’m now 55 and not physically what I used to be. This old lady gets tired easier and my plate is very full, so I have asked the Lord to show me what I need to remove from my plate if anything to give me more time to help Jaxon.
I have asked the Lord to help me grieve the loss of my dreams and all the plans I had. I have sought acceptance for what has to be laid down at this time in my life to pick up what the Lord has for me. It’s a slow process and I am getting better each day, but it wasn’t easy.
There were days I felt bitterness toward my niece for not having her life together enough to keep her son with her. Her decisions affected my life and I wasn’t happy about it in the beginning.
But now I have come to realize this was bigger than both of us. Acceptance of the situation is beneficial to all of us.
Thankful and blessed.
I am beyond thankful for the many gifts, boxes of diapers, wipes, cash, gift cards, offers of help, clothes, toys, and the food we have received over the past year and a half for Jaxon. We are beyond blessed. When I first took Jaxon in, I didn’t know how I would manage the extra expenses, but the Lord has provided through the generous and giving hearts of others and I am so thankful.
We are heading into unfamiliar territory with his Autism diagnosis, but not unfamiliar to many moms out there today. And like them, I have a lot to learn about how best to help Jaxon. It hasn’t been easy and the information is overwhelming, but I am learning to take it bit by bit. You can’t eat an elephant in one bite. I have already received so much support from other moms who are raising children with Autism.
I have an idea.
Here’s what I want to do if you don’t mind. I want to pray for them and Jaxon. Will you join me?
Heavenly Father, I thank you for your love and patience in our lives. When I consider all that your hands have made, I am thankful. Lord since Jaxon came into our lives on a full-time basis, its’ been a whirlwind of learning how to care for him in the midst of the covid crisis. I am learning each day to solely rely on you for strength, patience, and wisdom. Father I know I am not alone. This new chapter in my life has brought an awareness to a very difficult reality for many parents of children with Autism.
Lord, I pray for all the parents of children with Autism and I ask Lord that you provide your strength and wisdom to each family who loves an autistic child. Father, I pray you would open doors for all those seeking help for their child. Lord, I pray you would bring more specialized teachers to help children with Autism. I pray Lord for more resources for families who are struggling to get their child/children help.
Father, I have read numerous heartbreaking stories of mothers who live in fear when dropping their children off at school. Many are paralyzed with fear over how their child will do and if they will get picked on or have meltdowns during the day. Lord, will you comfort those moms and reassure them you love their child more than they do?
Lord, I ask for strength and wisdom in caring for Jaxon. It’s hard Lord and I’m not good at it, so I am seeking guidance from you. Please direct me accordingly each day. Help me to accept this assignment with an open heart and mind. Teach me Lord each day how to handle Jaxon. Show me Lord how best to reach him so that one day he glorifies you with his life. I praise you Lord and I thank you. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
The Teaching Lady
Central Florida Autism Resources
Starting Over At 54 – Tantrums