A little over four years ago, I stood up in a church, surrounded by the warm glow of friends and family, and promised to love one man for the rest of my life. In sickness and health, for richer or poorer, in good times and bad. My husband and I knew, when we got married, that we would last the distance. We had been together for a long time, borne two children together, and endured a lot of hardship. We had survived the deaths of both of our fathers, my postpartum depression which lasted for almost two years, and my son’s autism diagnosis. I had lost a job, and we had been on the brink of financial crisis. A lot of things had happened. Big, stressful, life-changing things.
Fourteen years into our relationship and four years into our marriage, we have recently been wading through something that many people would see as a disaster: the loss of the industrial unit that my husband worked out of for fifteen years, as well as the charity youth recording studio that it housed. We had a little less than a month to move fifteen years’ worth of product, materials, tools and equipment out of the unit, with no place to move it to. We had to turn our home upside down, empty our garage and beg for favours from friends who might have a bit of storage space to spare.
We had to strip the studio bare – the studio that we put thousands of dollars and tons of love and care into – and we had to see it empty of everything but memories.
Through the heat of July, we moved load upon load of stuff. There has been heavy lifting and carrying, rearranging, decluttering and a great deal of stress and anxiety. While all of this has been going on, I have been keeping my fledgling freelance business alive – helping my husband during the day, working through the night and grabbing catnaps on the couch from time to time. For a month, I abandoned my running, ignored my friends and forgot about things I’d said I would do. My two boys spent countless hours working with us, packing boxes, carrying things into the house, helping us find space where we thought there was none.
It has been physically gruelling, mind-blowingly stressful and absolutely fantastic. It is fantastic because we have an opportunity to rebuild our charity youth studio into something bigger and better than it was before. It is fantastic because my husband gets to recreate his business, drawing from its strengths and learning from the challenges it has faced in the past. It is fantastic because we have had offers of help from friends when we’ve most needed it: someone lent us a pickup truck when our van broke down, someone else has taken on the task of putting together a crowdfunding campaign for the youth studio, and many people showed up to do heavy lifting with us.
Most of all, it is fantastic because we – my husband, my sons and myself – have experienced what it truly means to be a family. Where others might have turned against one another, we have come together as one strong, cohesive unit.
It has been an absolute joy for us all to be there for each other, working together and learning from each other’s strengths. Yes, there has been some snapping and irritation, because we are, after all, human. But there has also been a lot of laughter and fun, and most of all, respect.
To say that my kids have been amazing through all of this doesn’t do it justice. My younger son has demonstrated maturity and empathy well beyond his years, as he has tirelessly helped and constantly shown concern for the wellbeing of those around him. My older son – my autism boy for whom change is so challenging – has been immensely brave through the routine changes and the drastic alterations to the space he lives in. I am so proud of them both that I could cry.
We have emerged from the worst of the craziness. The taking apart and moving out is done, and now we can start the exciting process of rebuilding. I can resume a more humane schedule, my exhausted husband can take a break and catch his breath, and my kids can play. And we can all look at each other and smile, overflowing with happiness, because we have each other. My husband and I know that we will always be there for each other, in good times and bad. And that makes us rich in a way that money never could.
Have you and your family had to deal with adversity? How did you and your kids cope with it?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Kirsten Doyle of Running for Autism. Photo credit to the author.