When was the last time you spent more than a few hours away from your family? More than one night? If you’re like me, it has been a while, or maybe never.
So, imagine my quaking stomach when I recently left town for four whole days. The day before my trip I nearly made myself crazy trying to take care of all the things that might happen in my absence. The morning I left I cried after I dropped off both girls at school and reconsidered leaving. However, writer’s conferences are not cheap and don’t offer refunds for chicken-hearted moms. Plus the airfare was paid for, so off I went to another part of the country with tears, fears, and these foreign objects called high heels.
I felt terrible the entire time I was away. I slept little, both from conference pressures and sadness of being away from my nest. My oldest got sick while I was gone. My youngest daughter (the one who is severely autistic and nonverbal) repeatedly cried for “Mama.” I felt so guilty! Children with autism don’t understand or deal well with change. Why had I left home? I promised myself I wouldn’t leave home again.
I survived the weekend, which was very stressful in its own right, and left hours early to get to the airport. I almost knocked people off the plane to get to baggage claim. By the time I saw my family’s car, tears of relief spilled down my cheeks. I was Mommy again! I got home, kicked off the high heels with glee, and sat on the couch with my “babies.”
Less than an hour later, my younger daughter got very sick on the carpet. I guess that was her way of dealing with the stress she hadn’t understood. I went right to work, throwing myself into my cherished role as Mommy. I bathed her and steam cleaned the carpet (for almost an hour) with gusto. That’s when I realized what had happened.
I was joyful to be back at home. Being Mommy was a wonderful privilege again, not a chore. Even something as droll as cleaning the carpet brought a deep satisfaction to my soul.
I finished with the carpet and jogged down the stairs. “Hey, Honey? Next year the American Christian Fiction Writers conference is in Denver. Can I go?”
Jennifer Dyer has an M.S. in Communications Disorders, which served her well in her professional career as a speech-language pathologist. Never did she imagine that her education and career were God’s way of preparing her to be a mom to her own daughter with autism. Today, she enjoys reaching out to other families who face similar diagnoses. As a cancer survivor, carpet-cleaning veteran, and originator of the “Messy House Ministry,” Jennifer feels blessed to share joy, peace, and humor with others facing life’s challenges. She is mom to two beautiful daughters and is thankful to be raising them, serving other families with unique needs, and using her gift of writing and speaking to minister to others. Jennifer is also the author of a youth fiction book series and is trusting God with His timing on publication. Jennifer has been a mom for 11 years. She and Brandon have been married for 13 years.