We buy magazines with covers that scream, "Ten steps to a better you!", "50 ways to declutter your home", "101 organizing ideas", "30 things you should do with your kids", "Seven great weight-loss recipes". We devour lists and tips and quick fixes. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only that wishes I could snap my fingers and my house would magically clean itself up--much like the nursery in Mary Poppins.
I admit I am guilty of buying into some of these things. I can't tell you how many organization books I've read. I think subconsciously I keep hoping reading one more article will make me a more organized person. I have spent more hours than I'd like to admit trolling Pinterest for recipes, meal planning, Autism ideas, and the like. I've even written my own post on this blog about tips and ideas for navigating amusement parks with more than one ASD child, or how to capture the magic of a surprise Disney vacation when your kids don't exactly like surprises.
Now don't get me wrong. I am grateful for the information and products out there that are truly helpful. Three of my children have ADHD, and two of them are on medications that help them focus. Before we tried the medicines, we went a more holistic approach cutting out sugars, gluten and casein. We also cut out artificial dyes. It worked when I could monitor my children's diet, but one little slip-up meant I had to deal with 45 minute long screaming tantrums. I was exhausted and Whilrlwind would actively seek the things I was trying to keep out of his diet. He would trade food at school, friends houses, etc. It was a losing battle. When we had his medication correct he was sweet loving, and easy to get along with because he could control his impulses and anger.
I've also found many useful tips and ideas that have made my life a bit easier in various ways. Ideas for transitioning my kids to activities, freezer meals to try that included a pre-made grocery list, organizing and scheduling ideas that have made life run a little smoother and the like.
As good as all these things can be though, I have to remind myself that for better or worse, I am running a marathon here--not a 50 meter dash.
There are no ten easy steps to helping my children master motor skills like buttons or legible handwriting. There isn't a sure-fire way to get my kids to respect personal space for others. We have to practice reciprocal conversation skills, picking up body language and other things I had always taken for granted. And, as much as I want to lose thirty pounds, it is not going to happen if I don't pay attention to what I eat and get exercise. The quick fixes I've seen for weight loss have had their ramifications. A former co-worker was very excited about Phenphen when it came out. He would later discover he had damaged his heart with its use.
A couple of years ago I ran a 5k. It was a goal I had, and I was so excited to keep going with my running. However, that winter I sprained both my knee and my ankle when I was rushing across my kitchen floor and slipped on a mat. My knee and ankle hurt for a long time, and I did not get back into running. This year I have a goal to run another 5k in the fall. As I train with the walk/run method, I find I "hit the wall". I get to the point when I don't feel like I can physically run one more step before I have to walk. I remember from before when I hit that wall and push through it--even one or two steps more, the wall would get pushed further and further back. I also remember there even comes a point in running when you get a second wind and you are able to go further than you did before.
I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it.
I would say I'm running a marathon in my life right now with my family, except it feels more like being in training. There are times we are running, but we hit our wall and don't think we can go one more step. Sometimes we are metaphorically walking. Moving forward at a snail's pace, but we are still moving forward. It's the only thing I can do. To not move forward would be to give up, and I just can't do that.
When I hit my wall or need to remember that this really is a long-distance run, there are a few things that really help me. One is looking back and seeing/remembering just how far we have come. Firstborn doesn't freak out at "crisis" situations anymore like he used to. The kids have come from reading below grade level to reading above grade level. Conversation skills are improving, Acroboy doesn't break down and cry anymore when a new food is presented to him, he is actually more willing to try new foods thanks to the food occupational therapy. We've made huge strides, and in my moments of frustration I have to remember just how far we've come.
I also have to remember I am not running this race alone. I have a running buddies/cheerleaders in my friends and family who support me. My biggest supporters are my Heavenly Father and Savior. Whenever I feel tired or discouraged I can turn to them through prayer, scripture study, service, contemplation, etc, and feel uplifted. There have been many times in my life where I feel like they've carried me.
This above all helps me move forward. When I reach the end of this life and have to meet my Father in Heaven and Savior I want more than anything to be able to truthfully say:
I have fought a good afight, I have bfinished my course, I have kept the faith 2 Timothy 4:7