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Oh, Happy Day

on July 13, 2012

Today, as recent as an hour ago, I hated my life. After mopping up a flooded bathroom floor for the 3rd time this week, trying to avoid being smacked in the face, failing to rescue a picture frame from destruction, barely rescuing a crystal vase from a similar fate, and dragging my crying, flailing, 60-lb 5-year-old son across the room to keep him safe, I was ready to give up.  I literally wanted the earth to just open up and swallow me whole.

Right now, my autistic son is going through a state of major regression, which basically means that he lost skills and/or functions that he had as recent as a week ago.  We were warned about these periods of regression – how all of the sudden one day you just have to start over, pretty much throwing away everything that “worked” before & develop new strategies, create new boundaries, figure out what works NOW. Because the other stuff doesn’t work anymore.

Let me give you a better picture: for those parents out there who have 2 or more children, do you remember what it was like figuring out that what works on one kid doesn’t necessarily work on the other? Maybe you have one child who would burst into tears with a harsh look, but the other was so defiant that stronger measures had to be taken. Or maybe one kid breezed through Math while the other needed tutors, extra homework and constant monitoring just to get a C. Imagine all of these things all balled up in one kid, and changing every so often during childhood.

Don’t get me wrong, my boy is smarter than ever; I’m positive there are amazing things going on in his mind…It’s just that he struggles with sensory issues that cause his body to get in the way of his mind. And his body is freaking out again, except this time he is heavier, taller, and stronger. We thought we had finally overcome this obstacle, but we’re back to square one.

And my heart breaks daily because of it.

So, I cried today. And I screamed. And then I hated myself for screaming and crying. And I hated that I felt like a bad parent. I hate that I love him so much and can’t help him. So I guess you could say that this was a BAD DAY.

Still, even in the midst of my absolute destruction today, I remembered a music video that always brings me joy. It just happens to be a song called “Oh Happy Day,” and it is featured in the movie “Sister Act 2.” So I got on my computer, and I played the video of that song. And I cried, and then I smiled, and I sang, and then I cried some more. Then it hit me. I know why I love this video *so* much. It’s because of the progression of emotion that unfolds during the course of the song.

See, in the beginning, the teenage choir and their soloist appear obviously unhappy while singing those words. Oh Happy Day.

Haha, they WEREN’T HAPPY. But they still had to sing those words. They had to keep singing that stupid song, even though they didn’t feel anything like its intended message. But then something wonderful happens…someone encourages them, sorta whips ‘em back into shape, reminds them of why they’re doing what they’re doing, and BAM. All of the sudden, that soloist starts singing with more intensity. And that choir starts getting more confident. And that music builds and builds, and it feels like they fight the world, singing with everything they have, until they are finally bursting at the seams with JOY. OH Happy Day!

That’s what it’s about, that’s what we do, THAT’S how we FIGHT when we have days like this. Just keep singing. Just keep moving. I don’t have to put on a happy face at first, but when I keep singing and fighting, and I remember why I’ve been chosen especially for this job, that sun begins to burst through the clouds and I swear that Heaven shines down and the angels shout it, too: OH HAPPY DAY!

And then it all falls into place. And I watch that stupid video over and over again. And I calm down, take a deep breath, and move forward. And my son visibly gets a little calmer, too.

So next time you’re hoping that crawling under a rock will help your mood, I dare you to watch this video instead and not have a big fat grin on your face by the end of it. In fact, I double dare you 😉

Click Here & enjoy: “OH HAPPY DAY!” – Sister Act 2

UPDATE: Alex has begun to stop and watch this video *with* me! You wanna know the best part?  He sings along =D


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