Reason One Hundred Thirty-Four Why I Admire My Wife

Let me go ahead and say it now.

My wife really stinks at “surprises.”

Whatever surprise she has planned, she always ends up blowing it – almost 98.8% of the time! (Sorry babe, but you know its true)

She may be bad at surprises, but she never stops impressing me with the things she does!

Last week she blew the surprise she had been wanting SO BADLY TO TELL ME ABOUT (read: “Want to guess what it is? Me: “No.” “Oh…now do you want to guess?” Me: “Nope.” “Ok…how about now…”) You get the idea.

Anyway we did that for about a week and she couldn’t help herself. Now, I can’t go blowing the surprise now that I am a privy to her grand project (and she needed my expertise to help finish it), but all I can say is that there are going to be some very impressed people later in the year.

Hmmm…those 3.7 readers that irregularly visit this blog are probably trying to figure out that little clue I just dropped. “What are the things Mike is good that she needed him to do?” Cooking? That can’t be, he’s 6000 miles away. Massage? Nope. See previous. Sleeping? Make Hot Wings? Give up?

Good, I am not going to tell you anyway. But, in the months ahead it will be revealed to the world and shared alike!

Thanks for impressing me yet again sweetheart. Your passion, creativity and heart have no ending. Keep doing what you are doing for out family and to make a difference in the world! I love you!

In Awareness,

Mike

Army Values Applied to The Military Dad Living With Autism # 4 – Selfless Service

This is a big one for me. It also one that I struggle with personally as a human. See, it’s not naturally in the human makeup to live a life in selfless service to others or a higher purpose. We tend to be creatures who take care of our own needs first. We tend more to “look out for #1″. Now, I’m not talking about the basics of life like Maslow’s needs of shelter, food, sex, etc that we need as
human beings. I am talking about living a life that focuses on the needs of others MORE than our personal needs.

This is tough. I struggle with it all the time.

That last piece of chocolate cake in the fridge – do I eat it…or, do I save it for my sweetheart? There appears to be an elderly couple in the car right behind me as I am pulling into the parking lot of the grocery store and that front spot is wide open! Do I take it…or, do I pass it by so the elderly couple can have an easier time parking and walking into the store?

See what I mean?

Now, try to build your character around a lifetime of selfless service – putting others needs before your own – dying to “self” if you’ll allow me to speak biblically for a moment. Now, I’m not trying to preach my Christian faith upon you, but one cannot deny that the Bible is full of tried and true principles of character and integrity. It also contains some of the greatest examples of humans who lived by these examples (as well as many who didn’t and the ramifications of these decisions of their free will – always a bad ending and a lesson to learn from, lol). One verse that is on my mind as I struggle with the predicament of selfish behavior is this on in Luke 9, verse 23: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

This simply reminds me that I need to focus on the higher order of life and eternity in order to act and serve appropriately here on earth.

For those in the Army, selfless service is that value where one is willing to even go as far as put their own life on the line for their comrades and for their country. These men and women are truly living the calling of “denying themselves” and focusing on the greater service to nation.

We have the same charge when we look at the exceptional needs of our autistic children and the spouse who supports the love and care through these special needs at home. Just the fact alone that you have an autistic child at home REQUIRES, yes, REQUIRES that you live a life of selfless service to the needs of your wife and your children. Leaders lead by example. As leaders of our households men, it is incumbent on us to lead by example and put the needs of our wives and children first. And we need to do this above our careers in the military, above any sports, hobbies or interests and yes, even above Sunday NFL Football! I know! I told you this is tough stuff. I struggle with this myself.

I find it easiest to get through those seasons of selfish desires by consciously (and prayerfully) reminding myself of the great charge that I have been given by being blessed with a supportive spouse in the autism battle with me and three deserving boys who deserve my personal best. Putting selfish desires first only strips my family of the opportunity I can provide them by providing proper leadership and service by caring for their needs. The whole reason I am in the Army now is primarily so I could focus on the special needs of my boys. Paying out of pocket for the required ABA treatment my boys needed was starting to break the bank, even on a good six
figure income! At the time I even had the promise of growing one of the companies I owned into a very lucrative financial position in the years ahead. But, that selfish interest in the moment was not in the best interest of my boys who needed help RIGHT NOW. The decision was easy when I followed the order of priorities in my life and put selfless service first for the benefit of my family.

God

Spouse

Children

Career

Yes, career is after family in my order of priorities. Sorry, I can always make money someplace else. And if my selfless service in the Army ever interferes with the selfless service I need to provide for my wife and children, then the Army will be removed from the picture. So, before I get to far in the woods about prioritizing or ordering your life, I’ll stop right here. We’ll save that
discussion for another day.

In Advocacy,

Mike

Army Values Applied to The Military Dad Living With Autism # 2 – Duty

In this second installment of applying the Army values to the man’s role in the family living with autism, we delve into the value of duty. Webster defines duty as obligatory tasks or functions that arise from one’s position in life; a moral or legal obligation.

I like that definition.

    Obligatory

. Meaning, “you have to”.

    Moral

meaning, because its the “right” thing to do.

But, if you are anything like me, you absolutely HATE being told that you HAVE to do something (it’s a miracle I survive in the Army as I do, lol). I guess I have a little chip on my shoulder – a “thing” I have against authority I suppose.

The first thing that usually comes to mind when told to do something is what? Yep, you got it…”WHO SAY’S SO?” Meaning: By whose authority do you direct me to do _______?

With being a committed spouse and parent with a family living with autism, it will be necessary to remember those key words above: obligatory and moral. There are going to be times when both husband and wife throw up their arms and say, “I QUIT”, “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE” usually in a fit of rage, frustration, misery or all of the above. This is completely ok and normal for all couple raising the autistic. And as long as both parents don’t do it at the exact same time and quit the same day, all will be fine!

My sense of duty to my family means that I have a moral obligation to do the right thing by my wife and my kids by being there for them, for the long haul. I am also driven by a higher power and in my heart I am compelled to fulfill my biblical duties as husband and father. Duty means that they come first. Not second. Not third.

First.

My sense of duty reminds me that I don’t have time to join a softball league while my wife is at home caring for our boys special needs. I don’t have time to participate in golf, bowling, darts or whatever league the guys may ask me to join. My duty is to home first. My duty is to be the best husband that I was designed to be, the best Dad I was designed to be. My duty keeps me out of these distractions. In the time I would spend participating in those types of activities is time I could spend relieving my wife so she can get time away and maintain her sanity, read a good book, get a walk in, or take a really long bath without distractions! If I’m following selfish pursuits I am taking time away from my duty. I need to read more, study more, research more, work harder to make an impact in my families life as well as the world around me. My wife is the lead caregiver on our team for our boys. She needs me to be at my best for her and our families sake. I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t become a better husband, father or advocate by playing on the company softball team.

Your child’s autism requires you to live to a higher duty than the average person. You have to give more than the guy next door does to his family. That is just the way it is. I have accepted my dutiful charge. It is challenging. Many times I don’t feel like living up to my duty. But, I do it. And I find that when I do, I feel much greater joy in my life because I am living in tune with purpose in my life.

Obligation. The right thing to do.

My challenge for you today is are you fulfilling your duties to your special family? Are you focused on doing what’s right to fulfill the obligations you have as a husband and father? Do you invest as much time into your home duties as you do with your military duty (career). It is easy to spot where a man’s heart is. You just have to look where he spends most of his time.

Don’t get me wrong. I know we all have our duty at work to accomplish. Duty calls! And I’m not saying that both parents don’t need to exercise some alone time, or independent hobby time – within reason. That is the key. In your heart, ado you know that you are doing your best with your duty at home? It’s as easy as starting right now.

Ask your wife tonight, “Honey, is there anything I can do for you right now?”, or perhaps “Babe, I got the kids tonight, why don’t you disappear for a few hours and do your own thing.” Give the kids a bath without even asking or telling her you are going to do it. Cook dinner for once to relieve the burden.

Do the right thing.

I know you can and I know you will.

God bless,

Mike

Army Values Applied to The Military Dad Living With Autism # 1 – Loyalty

You have to love the military and its use of acronyms. There is one for everything! As a matter of fact, the seven Army Values can even be easily remembered as an acrostic, where the beginning letter of each value spell out LDRSHIP (or leadership). I have these words posted up on 8X10s near my desk for all to see. As I happen to be deep in tough I was really meditating on those words and couldn’t help but think of my role as a husband, father, Army leader and lead advocate for our boys and the special needs they have. I thought I’d take a moment and try to remember and capture some of the thoughts I had earlier today. I’ll have to take one value at a time as I know that I am going to get on a rant, and I don’t want to write a thesis!

Now, for some of you this may be some pretty direct stuff. Much of this will probably challenge you greatly. No one is harder on me than, well, me! I demand more of myself than anyone else does. I work hard to self-discipline my mind, heart and will to conform to a higher order of operation. So, when you are reading some of these below remember that I am telling them just as much to myself personally to remind myself of my God-given charge in life in these roles above. If at any point, I start to raise your blood pressure and tick you off, then just tell yourself that I’m writing this for the other guy reading this…not you. Savvy? Ok, here goes…

LOYALTY

To be loyal one has to have trust and commitment in the long term. It is the attitude of being sold out. To be wholly committed to the cause without the possibility of a wandering eye toward other people, goals or pleasures. Loyalty continues through the good and the bad and endures the sways of short term thoughts, feelings and activities. The best example I can think of is the family dog. That dog is loyal to his master. He eagerly awaits the return home from work, and he does this everyday! He could have been scolded or punished the night before, but right now that doesn’t matter. He can’t wait for his master’s return. He may get distracted momentarily with playing with the kids or to gnaw on a bone, but as soon as he here’s the garage door! It’s ON! HE’S HOME! And as soon as the master walks in the door, his faithful and loyal dog is there to greet him with happiness. Right, wrong or indifferent, that dog expresses loyalty.
I have absolute loyalty to my family. There is nothing that could lead me astray or pull me away from the loyalty I have for the bond with my wife and role as a father. I am loyal to my wife. I don’t look at other women and certainly never put myself in compromising positions in work or life to threaten this. And when we have disagreements, arguments and fights (yes, there are levels of escalation) I remain loyal to my wife. If we’re having an argument it is a 90% chance I am to blame for it anyway! I am so disappointed how many married men I work with that can’t resist that gaze they give to women. That lustful, improper gaze. Like loyalty, being disciplined in your thought-life is a choice to make daily. See, men were designed with free will. It is a choice to remain loyal to your wife. It is a choice to remain loyal to your autistic kids. Being loyal makes life that much easier. When you are committed with 100% of your heart and mind to the total welfare and care of another person and are sold out in common cause to the responsibilities in life that you share together, then it is a choice you only have to make one time! I don’t want to hear about how it’s OK to look. Sorry, it’s not. Would any man prefer to have their wife staring and perhaps fantasizing about total strangers when he is not around? Worse yet, when he is right there! Just the thought alone makes you question your loyalty. When the decision has been made to be loyal, then it is easy to discipline those thoughts to just say no when tempted. Same goes for the kids. I am loyal to my children. I will never leave them, their mother or put them in a position where I am not their #1 fan and caregiver. Autism makes life extremely difficult – almost maddening at times. Your wife, your kids, deserve your loyalty. A wise friend once told me shortly after I started my family that I “no longer live life for myself.” How true that is. It is so sad to hear about father’s who give up on the autistic family – abandon their wife. Chicken out. Wimp out. Wuss out. What kind of cowardly man believes that he can just walk away from his responsibilities and leave a wife to cope alone and children to not have a strong, loving, caring father to assist with the development. Shame on those cowards. My family can count that I will never be that man. I love and embrace the challenge. They can count on my loyalty as long as there is breathe in my body. I will always be there for my wife and for my boys.

If you have been struggling with loyalty to your wife and/or family, please reach out to me. I’d love to try to help you. Perhaps provide some encouraging words or share with you ways that I strengthen my commitment in life. Military men understand loyalty to country. I encourage you to show that same level of faith and commitment to your special needs family at home. They deserve it!

In Advocacy,

Mike