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 # 5 – Honor

Honor is simply doing things in accordance with a positive view of your character and beliefs. It is how you would be remembered based on the actions and the content of your character.

For example, an Honorable Discharge from military service is something to be very proud of. It denotes a period of time well-served in service to our nation. It is a positive, historical record of the sum total of all the honorable actions and the reputation you exhibited. We all know who gets Dishonorable Discharges from service. Nuff said.

Honor, as it relates to our role as husband, father and leader in our exceptional family filled with the joys and challenges that autism brings, has to deal with acting in a way that is going to leave a lasting legacy in your family.

You see, every day we make choices that will either enhance or detract from the goals and aspirations we have for our family’s success. We discussed in the value of “Duty” how certain activities can take away from the service we provide to our families. We need to make choices that empower and positively impact our wives and children.

Honor can be achieved by applying the following model of success:

THOUGHTS (lead to) ACTIONS (which, through repetition, leads to) HABITS (which over a span of time leads to) YOUR CHARACTER (which, over a lifetime, leads to) HONORABLE LEGACY

So, the following is a list that comprises somewhere in the above lineage of actions applies in my life to help ensure that I will live a life of honor to my family:

1) Every day I am going to work to communicate my love and respect for the role my wife plays as my life mate, and as the incredible care-giver she is to our needy boys. I want her to feel that I truly love her, am committed to her and will fulfill my God-given role to her as her husband. This means appreciating and encouraging her in all the tasks that autism requires in the home. I need to go out of my way to make sure she understands the difference she makes in our kid’s lives with the extraordinary effort she applies to motherhood, and the difference she makes in mine for still having energy to invest into “us.”

2) I will fulfill the duties of my role and be loyal to the tasks that I am in charge of. I will do my part in our family team in the nurturing, education, protection and advocacy for our boys with the vigor that only a parent can provide in the defense of his autistic child’s needs. I will strive to better myself, educate myself and develop skills sets to that end through the reading of good books, participation in organizations and larger efforts that will help not only my family, but all families who live with autism. I will work hard to do more and get better…every day.

3) I will always be there to provide for them all financially, using whatever means I am capable to provide them all the opportunities that successful finances can provide in life.

4) I will strive to make a global impact for all families living with autism by using all of my strengths, skill sets and gifts to help the autism community as a whole. I want to encourage, support and advocate for those who everyday struggle with the unique challenges in life that autism provides in the home. I hope to do whatever I can to help other parents become better at their charge of parenting their children. I want to help those same parents be the best spouses they can for each other, and in the circumstances where there is only one parent handling the burdens at home I want to be an encouraging friend and let him or her know that even though the road can be more difficult – you can do it too! If anything, I hope to empower families with the belief that almighty God believe the most in His people that He gives some of the toughest burdens to in life. He’ll never give you anything that you are capable or able to prepare yourself for!

5) I want to be a wise educator and instill wisdom in my boys (as best as their disorder makes it possible). I will not tire in the desire in my heart to instill those beliefs in life that I hold dear. I will be the living example in thought and deed for them to emulate and learn from. Remember, that despite lack of apparent physical or mental capacity for learning I believe that there is an intellect behind that shell (link) where if you coach and model for them anyway, in their own special way you will make an impact on them for life!

On the day of my funeral, whenever the Lord chooses to call me home, there is going to be some sort of gathering back at the church or at our home. I am sure that people will be sharing cookies, coffee and other munchies while sharing stories about me and my life. It is said that your legacy can be captured in that little “dash” on your tombstone between the born on and check-out date. I want my dash to represent an honorable life to my friends and family. I want them to know that I tried hard. I want them to know that I really gave a damn and worked hard to be everything the God designed me to be. I want them to discuss the many different examples of how I served my
God, my wife, my family and the community around me – that I really worked hard to make a difference in all.

I believe that honor is best achieved through through our progressive, positive, results-oriented daily actions in the life we lead.

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