Two days ago, Joseph and I were headed for the grocery store when he asked if we could buy him a Lunchable for the first day of school.

For those of you blissfully unaware of what a Lunchable is, suffice it to say that it is a pre-packaged, highly-processed container of “food.” Lunchables keep our children slim, healthy, and on top of their game — NOT. But they are really tasty and they include a sugary treat, so of course kids love them.

Joseph’s been feeling nervous about school, so I thought, What the heck. At least he’ll have something about his first day to look forward to. And I told him yes.

We get out of the car and walk through the parking lot. Suddenly Joseph looks at me, smiles a wicked smile, sticks his hand down his shorts and grabs his you-know-what.

This is his thing lately: Act in inappropriate ways in public for the fun of it, and also because it pushes Mom’s buttons.

So I give him a consequence. I tell him we’re not buying the Lunchable.

He is immediately reduced to tears. Can’t it be his last warning? (No — I’ve done way too many of those.) Can he have another chance the next time we go to the store? (Yes — but it doesn’t help his upset.)

Oooohhh he is upset. If I weren’t totally determined to buy my 5-lb bags of carrots for my morning juice, which I am completely out of, I would turn around and go right back to the car. As it is, I decide to drag my totally messed-up autistic kid through the store with me.

Joseph cries. He moans. He buries his head into the crook of my arm, which is where it stays for the duration of the shopping trip. Everybody looks, of course. I grab the carrots, mentally dropping all the other items on the shopping list. I drag him, sobbing and groaning, into line. Naturally, the lines are very long, but a kind woman standing at the next register comes over and asks if I want to go in front of her. Whoever you are, caring woman, may you feel the repercussions of your kindness every day for the rest of your life.

We make it to the car, carrots and all. I put on my sunglasses, start the car, and cry as I drive home. It never gets easy having a child on the spectrum.

A big part of it, I think, is that I am used to being successful. I pick an undertaking, or it comes my way. I give it a lot of thought, prayer, time and energy, and it almost always comes out well. I am good at manifesting. I am good at relationships. I am successful at generating money. I am a great yoga teacher. I am just plain good at stuff.

But I am not successful at turning my child into a normie. I have given Joseph more time, energy, thought, and prayer than everything else combined and still he is not who I want him to be.

Ha ha! Isn’t it great?!! It’s just what the yogis say: Give something your full energy and then let go of the outcome.

And it’s also just what the Buddhists say: The mind loves to compare. “This is not as good as other parents have it.” “Why does my kid have to be so different from other kids?” The comparing mind hates to come up short against anyone else. Hates it.

I get sucked into the darkness, but eventually I remember what to do. Up my meditation time so that I can calm that comparing mind and re-identify with my (and Joseph’s — and your) true nature. Add in some juicy prayer time where I can deeply let go and let God. Bring in more yoga postures, because they bliss me out. Spend time with good friends so that I can laugh and enjoy myself. And stop doing Facebook for a while.

I get in trouble when I do too much Facebook — FB, to its close friends. The comparing mind really jumps in. Photos of happy kids on happy trips with other happy kids. Posts about children who say and do amazing things. Awards the children win for being so normal and nice and good at stuff. And, of course, all the happy parents, as well.

Attachment to outcomes and a comparing mind are misery-making. Trust me, I know. So just for today, I stay in the present and allow life to be what it is.

Just for today, I tuck into my heart the words of John Milton from Paradise Lost:
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven.

* *

Update: In this morning’s meditation, the first lines of the 23rd psalm came to mind. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. I’ve always thought “I shall not want” was a reassurance, but perhaps it’s not! Maybe it’s a commandment. Reign in our desires; be content with what we have. The Lord is our shepherd, and so there is no reason to want for anything else.

This is the kind of thing that meditation brings up, and it is the reason I love spiritual practice! Wishing you (and me) a glorious day of not wanting.

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