“This past Sunday was brought to you by autism.” That’s what my forehead should say.

Sunday. That word used to evoke scenes of friends and church, long lunches, napping on the couch, and maybe a delicious snack. These days Sunday means a LONG span of time when Rachel has very little structure.

Sunday = messes and stresses.

This afternoon, after a long day of chasing Rachel and messes, hubby took Rachel out for a drive after dropping eldest off for her church AWANA program. “Get some rest,” were his parting words.

Yes! I retreated to my favorite chair … and found it occupied. Not by a person or a dog. No, it was occupied by big globs of peanut butter. Yuck!

I glared at it. Shook my head at it. Even threatened it. The mess stared back and laughed. “Ha! Just try to clean me, lady!”

I took a swipe at it with my hands. It spread and crumbled into the fabric. I tried a towel. It disintegrated even more. I tried the big, powerful vacuum. The mess laughed at me again. Arrggh! I was going to need a vacuum hose for this mess. Sadly, Rachel likes to carry around that hose, so it was nowhere to be seen.

We have a saying in our house. If it’s missing, check Rachel’s bed. Off I went. I found a few pairs of my shoes under her bed, two of my purple shirts, three bowls, and about fifty other things there, but no hose.

I moved on. I searched the ball pit, one of her other favorite stash zones. Nope. The therapy room and her puppy tent came up empty of vacuum hoses, although I found many, many other interesting items. I ran down the stairs, entering Rachel’s closet of doom under the stairs, a dangerous zone only to be entered with full combat wear. I found several more pairs of shoes—stuffed with gloves. Also present were blankets and a host of other interesting items, but still not vacuum hose. I screamed. “Why?”

I took a second to catch my breath, although I wanted to kick a hole in the wall. “God, this is so unfair! I have thirty minutes to take a break, and it is all going to be taken up with messes. This happens every week! My whole house—my life—is one big lump of sticky!”

I finally found the hose and went to work on the chair—for the second time today, I might add. I grouched the whole time. “Not fair, not fair!” I also spent a while beating myself up for my lack of parenting savvy. Why did I let Rachel have peanut butter anyway? Oh yes. Earlier she followed me around forever asking for it—that’s why I let her have it. She wore me down. But that’s not a good reason, especially when I have to spend hours vacuuming up messes after she spills it.

After I sat down, sticking to the chair, I took stock of my emotional state. I thought of my dog that just passed away, and I thought of the verse, “Who of you by worrying can add a day to your life?”

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Holding my sweet dog as she passed away reminded me life is very short. Wasting time and tantrums don’t do me any good. It won’t add time to my life, and it won’t change the state of things. In fact, taking the time to have a fit only robs me in the end. Furthermore, allowing guilt and anger to eat me up only paralyzes me. Yes, I need to move forward in my parenting, learning as I go. I cannot expect to get everything right the first time, especially with an autistic child who has ever-changing needs. I shouldn’t live my life steeped in so much guilt that I fail to learn from and appreciate what is right in front of me.

Does this mean I must face messes and stresses by kicking up my heels and shouting, “Yee haw?”

No. But I don’t need to wallow, either. I must trust the Lord to provide me with what I need in the moment—a vacuum hose and electricity—and be thankful for those little things. So, “Thank you, Lord, for my vacuum and that we have enough food to eat. Thank you that You allowed me to be a mom. Thank you for life and that You provided a dog for us just before we lost our other one.”

What are you thankful for today?