I guess I should have known better than to try to bring home a two-foot long home-made dried klobasi from Slovenia… but TSA left me a nice little note telling me that I had committed a crime for smuggling in the sausage and they would keep it.
I had a wonderful 10 days in Slovenia. I got to spend time with my family and meet new friends and play at some of the most amazing venues with some of Slovenia’s biggest stars But sometimes that comes with a price. Yesterday was THE jet-lag day. I realized it when I got home after shopping all morning and noticed my shirt was on inside out. I should have known better to venture out again, but
I did. And then, of course, this happened.
I am on the hunt for replacement animals for James’ plastic farm. Somehow through the years we have only ended up with one pig and a farmer and so he uses old Weebles and his monkey’s to fill in for the horse, the cow and the sheep. Finding presents for him at Christmas that he will enjoy is always a challenge. So I thought more farm animals would be a great gift.
But as I stood in the toy section at Marshall’s last night the smell almost knocked me over. I instantly knew what I had done. My blood ran cold. “Shit… I forgot to take James to the potty!” I had stood in line at Walmart outside the Handicap restroom for almost fifteen minutes and whoever was in there never came out, so I decided to just take him at the next store. But then, I got lost in the woman’s clothing section and the allure of a furry sweater and totally forgot.
As I stared at a pool — and I mean a pool — of urine on the floor I thought about bolting. No one was around. No one would know it was us. But then I had a flashback to when I was five-years-old and had an accident on stage during rehearsal for The Sound of Music. It was my first theatrical performance as Gretle and I was afraid to ask to use the restroom. I tried to hold it. Then, I tried to pretend it wasn’t me. But of course everyone knew and the other kids started making fun of me. It was a horrible life-scarring moment, which still
hurts. (I still can’t watch the movie!) I knew that I did not want James to feel any of what I had felt. I hugged him and said, “Oh buddy, Mommy is so sorry she forgot to take you to the potty. We will get you cleaned up!”
I ran to the checkout counter and I quietly tried to say, “Can I get someone to help me, my son had an accident”, when the lady yells across all five checkout counters, “We need clean up, there’s been an accident in the Children’s department!” I head back to the scene to wait for help, trying to detour pedestrians around the puddle, and no one shows up. Another trip back to the counter and I say, “Can you just give me a roll of paper towels and some trash bags?” to which they respond, “Well what on earth happened?” Which, in my foggy, jet-lagged mental state, I took to mean, “What did YOU let YOUR kid do?” Sigh.
I head back to the scene with paper towels and plastic bags and start cleaning it up. I had flashbacks of my time on the SWA flight, and longed for Juan to show up and help me. I was somehow reminded to be thankful and grateful in the midst of the mess because this was minimal compared to an eight-year-old covered in crap, trapped on an airplane. And if I made it through that, I could surely do this?! But there’s not enough towels to soak it up, and they were not Bounty – the quicker picker upper – and now the towels are swimming in the pool and now I’m dripping too. I wanted to cry. I was exhausted and jet-lagged and smacked in the face with my reality. Re-entry from vacation, even a work vacation, is hard. James still needs help and may always need help. I need help. These are the moments that I hate being the parent of a special needs child. I wanted to be mad at someone. James. God. TSA. Finally, and I mean finally…. the clerk shows up. But all she does is stand there and watch!! Yep, I can be mad at her.
James needed new clothes. I grab a package of undies from a shelf nearby and of course, God put the perfect pair of sweatpants in the wrong section, just hanging there on the sale rack for me to use, and James and I head to the bathroom.
A sink bath, more paper towels and new clothes and both James and I are clean. Of course when I ask him if he is okay he says, “Yank you bobby” which brings a flood of tears. I’m hoping I saved him from a scarring moment. And for the first time in my life I’m thankful for my scarring moment.
I abandon the search for farm animals and head to the check out. (I still needed the furry sweater.) We stink – like Linus – and I apologize to the check out girl and say, “We had an accident” which I’m sure she already knew from the beginning of the story. And she says, “My sister had spinal bifida so I understand. It happens.” And that one simple comment made me feel so good. Her words carried acceptance of who I was, of who James was, of what had happened. She was right, IT happens.
And who knows what the IT is for you and in your life?
I got in the car, needing chocolate or vodka or both, when I got a text from a friend. She’s in the midst of heart ache. Big time heart ache. IT is bad. And then I checked my email and there was a request for prayer for a family who’s three-year-old child was perfectly fine one minute and now will never be the same. IT is really bad. Which put my little urine episode into perspective and I became grateful that IT was just urine, and IT is just Down syndrome and IT is just Autism.
Jesus was born so we could have life. Abundant life. But not a life only full of everything good, but abundant in every way — the good, the bad, the messy. Lots of ITS. It’s hard to feel it or see it when you are in the midst of IT, but I’ve learned a bit because of my experiences with James and battling depression that I now understand that it is inside that dark, messy, lonely, horrible place that healing and connection with God become real. Life becomes bigger and better and brighter because of the darkness.
When you are out shopping in the hustle and bustle this Christmas season, pay attention to those around you. Not everyone is having a “Holly Jolly Christmas”
at the moment, and maybe someone needs a kind word or a helping hand. I know James and I did. And watch for puddles. Please pray for my friends. And I will keep you and your IT in my prayers too.
Of course none of this has anything to do with my missing Klobasi, except that it would have gone great with the drink I had when I got home!