May 20, 2020
May 20, 2020 AllisonM


As I write this, there are men in our basement. They are drilling, moving big parts of things around, making noise — they are replacing our twenty-two year old HVAC. Great time for that to happen, right? Right.


Honestly, the worst part about it is that John Henry can’t have access to the backyard. And it’s apparently impossible to satisfactorily explain that to a ten-year-old with autism who can be quite single-minded. So I have made a list of the things we can do outside of the house when the workers have to come inside this afternoon to finish the job by cutting a hole in the wall of the room we call the library (sounds fancier than it is). The things we can do outside of the house consist of trips to Home Depot and Target. No pools are open, no parks, no nothing. But I’m looking at the bright side — if we mask and glove up, then we can do our teaching outside of the house today and practice some community and living skills. 


Parenting requires pivoting. So does teaching.

So does life.


Isn’t it funny how we get used to things? Upon learning that we had to replace the entire cooling and heating system, I was aghast at the expense. But after a few hours, I accepted it as part of life, or at least home-owning, and decided that we are lucky to be able to scramble around, figure it out, and do what we need to do so we don’t melt in here and so I don’t do something awful in the midst of a hot flash. Things breaking is just another thing to handle. When I think about it, I do realize that I have been aghast upon learning A LOT of things throughout my life. But I have accepted those things too, scrambled around, figured them out, and did what I needed to do. 


Just being in this world requires some pivoting, doesn’t it? You never know what’s gonna come at you like a crazy flying monkey at any moment. We have to duck, swerve, and sometimes run for cover.


I wonder, what is it that gets us through the stretches of time during which we think we might just finally lose it due to those crazy flying monkeys we need to try to keep from hitting us? Most of us really don’t lose it. And if we do, it isn’t for long.


I have roses growing in the backyard. The plants, or bushes I guess, were given to us as a wedding gift by my dear friend Sarah. Y’all know her because she took the photo that was used on the cover of Not Dark Yet, the album I made with my sister. She is a sublime creature. She knew that I needed roses growing outside this almost one-hundred-year-old, dear, sweet house, and she knew that the ones she chose for me would be beautiful and to my taste. They are called Quietness. And they are what’s getting me through this day, somehow, even though I can’t go in the backyard until later either — I know they are there. Sometimes, when it’s just them and me in the early morning or the twilight, I imagine I hear them whispering to me that it will all be okay. And sometimes, that is all I need — to commune with something beautiful and tender that reminds me of the softer parts of life. That gets me through.


Fast forward. 


I wrote most of this weekly post this morning. I only give myself an hour to do this each week, and sometimes it feels like a mad dash to make sense of something and then send it out to whoever wants to read it. And case in point, I ran out of time this morning. Everything felt chaotic. John Henry was not having a great time after he realized he would have to stay inside for the morning, so he and I finally took a drive to see a friend — we stayed in the car while she stood on her stoop (and I needed to deliver her Christmas gift, finally, after five months of it sitting in the entryway) — and we went to the drugstore to try to find some miracle product that would stay on a cut on the bottom of his foot because he refuses to wear bandaids. We had to get out of the house. We then returned home, where I tried to catch up with the day, but again, it was hard to wrangle anything. After John Henry finished his daily table work with his teacher, Kaylee (we love Kaylee), who had arrived at noon, the three of us headed out to attempt the above referenced store visits. He patiently waited while I bought some new ferns and planters at Home Depot, then we headed to Target, where he picked out a new reinforcer (a reinforcer is an object or goal that one works for while completing ABA tasks) from the toy aisle and again, waited patiently while I picked up a few things we needed. Checkout lines are always our problem and today proved no different. While Kaylee held his reinforcer for waiting, which was Starburst jelly beans, and bargained with him that he would get one per minute for waiting nicely, he protested by digging his fingernails into both our hands. And that’s been happening all day. So — none of this came off without a hitch, but what does? Nothing. Not even leaving the store — my mask decided to come loose just as we were crossing traffic to get back to our car and I was pushing a cart AND holding his hand that he was desperately trying to get out of my grasp. Damn damn damn. Crazy flying monkeys everywhere.


We made it home safely, and John Henry is now playing in the backyard while the workmen finish up their HVAC installation inside the house as I finish typing. And lest you think there is no finish line to this piece, I’ll just leave you with this: As I walked around the corner after having set up the bubble machine to blow bubbles into John Henry’s inflatable swimming pool, I ran into my husband, who’d been recording a song in the studio. He said, “Hey — it’s good to see you.”


What is beautiful and tender in this world, and what can bring softness to the jagged edges of our days, are the most valuable parts of all this magic for me now. So, I’m gonna go let my husband see me some more. 


And I will really enjoy our cool air tonight. I’ll fight off more flying monkeys tomorrow, after I visit with my quietness. Thanks heavens and Sarah for quietness.


Peace, love, and a very happy Wednesday to y’all.