The day I started writing this blog I did something that has become a part of our normal weekend routine. I woke up before 7am on a Saturday and I headed to the grocery store for groceries and donuts. As I made my way to the store I enjoyed a moment alone in my car. I enjoyed the easy silence of the morning. And then I realized that without knowing it I had driven most of the way to the store listening to my kiddo’s CD. So I switched over to the radio and continued my drive. I pulled into the store I realized that I was crying. I stopped for a moment to try to understand what had happened. Why was I crying? And then my brain focused on the words of the song playing on the radio. I quickly downloaded the song and I sat in my car in the grocery store parking lot for another 10 minutes and listened to the song 3 more times. I listened and I cried. And then I took a deep breath, wiped my tears, and headed into the store for groceries. In that moment I had discovered something that has become very precious to me; my fight song. It is the song I turn to on a tough day. It is the song I need when life feels too big. To real. It is the song that reminds me why I am on this journey. Why I was picked to be Grayson’s mommy. It is the song that reminds me that I am doing the best I can and that my best will always be enough; even when I feel like I am falling short.
I want to talk about this song. And about the importance of having something like a fight song to keep me fresh and moving forward. But before I do that I need you to read these words. Maybe even click the link and listen to this song. Because whether you are living with a child on the spectrum, or battling through any number of other difficult situations, I think these words matter.
Rise Up by Andra Day You're broken down and tired, of living life on a merry go round. And you can't find the fighter, but I see it in you so we gonna walk it out. And move mountains We gonna walk it out And move mountains And I'll rise up. I'll rise like the day. I'll rise up. I'll rise unafraid. I'll rise up. And I'll do it a thousand times again. And I'll rise up. High like the waves. I'll rise up. In spite of the ache. I'll rise up. And I'll do it a thousand times again. For you When the silence isn't quiet, and it feels like it's getting hard to breathe. And I know you feel like dying, but I promise we'll take the world to its feet. And move mountains We'll take it to its feet And move mountains And I'll rise up. I'll rise like the day. I'll rise up. I'll rise unafraid. I'll rise up. And I'll do it a thousand times again. For you All we need, all we need is hope, and for that we have each other And I'll rise up. High like the waves. I'll rise up. In spite of the ache. I'll rise up. And I'll do it a thousand times again. For you
This song speaks to me from the very first words. Because so many days I do feel broken down and tired. Too many days I will myself to find the strength to move forward, to not give up. This week we had a technician in our house from 5-7pm for family therapy. And at the end of a particularly trying meltdown she looked at me and said “I don’t know how you guys are always so calm.” And the thought that ran through my head was “well, it isn’t like I can totally lose my shit while you are in my house.” And the truth is, that sometimes I do want to totally lose my shit. To come completely unhinged. To duck and run for cover. And in those moments I am blessed to have a partner that can see those feelings and those needs wash over me. And so he gives me permission to take a step back and collect my patience. I take a moment long enough to remember that I am mad at the autism and not at my child. That is a gift that my husband and I give each other every day. The gift of allowing each other to have moments of imperfection. Sometimes it is over in an instant. The second I close the door to my room and take a deep exhale I feel ready to go back out and face the melt down. And some days I linger longer. Some days my moment turns into the need to run to the store or go for a walk. And I am not going to apologize for that. Sometimes, I need to get away. And that is the thing that fuels me to come back and do it again. To be better. To rise up. And so when I hear the words “when you are broken down and tired, and living life on a merry go round” I think, oh thank you god I am not alone! Someone else, somewhere else feels this way.
But I think the thing that I most connect with about this song is that it is not really about the writer at all. Sure, she is the one that is going to rise up, but she is doing it because of someone else. Someone else that she loves so deeply and believes in so strongly, that she will walk to the end of the earth to be the strength that person needs to keep moving forward. And this is exactly how I feel about being Grayson’s mommy. And this is exactly how I feel about being Rowan’s mommy. As a parent you realize that so many things that happen in the course of a day have nothing to do with you. We move through each day, through each moment, through each triumph and each struggle with a laser focus. A focus on doing everything in our power to keep our children moving forward. To help teach them what they will need to know to make good decisions for themselves. To give them every resource possible to give them the best chance at being happy. To be healthy. To live a full life. And that is what this song is about. About knowing that it will not be easy. Knowing that the parenthood journey will require us to both push and be pushed. Knowing that we will need to put our own fears aside to be strong for our children. To help teach them to be strong.
If you listen to this song it may mean something different to you. It may not speak to you at all. But it speaks to me. It gives me strength. This is my fight song. And I think at the end of the day we all need a fight song. We need something to propel us forward. To help us find the strength that left our bodies, the hope that left our hearts and the will that left our brains. It helps us find all of those things; and it brings them back to life. I tell you what, I already know that my love for my children can move mountains. Because it already has. Together, my husband and I have risen time and time again to face things that scare the crap out of us. And because we rise up; so will our children.