I remember longing to be a parent and imagining rocking my baby peacefully, singing lullabies. I envisioned myself baking cookies with them, making arts and crafts, kissing away boo boos and tucking in angelic children at night. I could see in my dream that one day they would grow up and have a perfect family just like mine. Occasionally there was even an image of the rare sleepless night of rocking and cuddling a sick child.
I've had all of those experiences. Well except the growing up and having a family part, I am NOT ready for that yet! I've also had so many more that I never would have imagined I would. So many great experiences. Hearing my children say "I love you," kisses blown through windows and across fences, mastering math facts, sounding out a word for the first time, celebrating school achievements, watching them take their first step, shoot their first goal, throw their first ball, speak their first sentence and then the second and third and one thousandth. I've had the joy of taking a walk with nowhere to be and seeing the world through their eyes, reliving some of my favorite childhood experiences. I've searched the Christmas tree lot for that perfect tree and then enjoyed steaming hot cider. I've watched Easter Egg Hunts where one child is elated with finding just one egg. Celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, anything and everything. Being a parent is wonderful. To love someone solely because they are and to revel in all the delightful things they do.
That love is also why being a parent is so terribly tough. I never knew how much more I was signing up for. The tears I've wiped might number in the millions, I've cleaned up gallons upon gallons of vomit, wiped more bottoms than I care to count. I've hugged my children too many times as they've poured out a broken heart to me and known as I cried with them that I can't fix this. I cannot take the pain away. I've kissed my baby good-bye in the operating room and I've left my hysterical son on a kindergarten playground when his schedule was altered and he could hardly cope with that huge change. I've restrained my sensory defensive child just to trim their fingernails until we learned how to soothe him before and after. I've sat in IEP meetings where every one of my child's deficits is highlighted and gone over. I wouldn't change any of this because strangely it is all these negative moments that make me love my children all the more fiercely and why my heart aches so much tonight.
For several days Elijah has told me his stomach hurts. Since he is otherwise acting pretty normal I haven't thought much about it but tonight he kept coming down for two hours after bedtime because his stomach hurt so I tried a different tactic and asked him to tell me about school. I knew transitions are hard for him and he was a little slow with adjusting to a new classroom and grade. I wasn't prepared for what I got. His little body just melted into mine as he told me about how confusing it was and how he wants to be in his classroom more. (He is pulled out for almost half the day). He knows the other kids are doing stuff while he goes to speech, occupational therapy and the resource specialist and he is worried about missing out on fun things and falling further behind. He then goes on to tell me he is really scared he can't do second grade math. "First grade got so hard at the end and I know second grade is going to be harder. I want to be smart but I don't know if I can do it." He goes on to say how the class goes so fast and he is just so confused about what he should be doing. At this point tears are streaming down both of our faces. I hugged him and rubbed his back and told him how much I loved him and how smart I believe he is. I promised to talk to his teachers and see if we can work it out that he misses less or perhaps differently. Even still when he went back to bed I just felt sad.
I wish I had said so much more. I wish I had said something like this.
You are smart Elijah, so incredibly smart. I wish I could make learning easier for you. I wish I could make autism (feels like such a nasty word tonight), learning disabilities, visual processing challenges, language delays and sensory processing disorder all disappear. Your brain works differently than mine but it doesn't make you any less smart. Most boats don't fly and most airplanes won't sail across the ocean but both can get you to Hawaii they just have to do it differently and it's likely going to take the boat a little longer but they both can get there just differently. Those riding on the boat might have more fun and see a whole lot more along the way. Being different is okay. I wish you could see how incredibly intelligent you are. I know IQs mean nothing you your young mind but yours is up there buddy and that's pretty impressive. You remember things like no one else can. You have amazing problem solving skills and you think outside the box. You ask good questions and you desire knowledge. I am so afraid sometimes in our effort to teach you to read and write that we are going to lose some of that. You are amazing because even though school is hard, hard work you come back every day. Even though it is hard to write the letters and you cannot always remember which way they go, you still made me a birthday card. I love that when you are happy and excited your whole body gets happy and excited too as if you can't wait to tell the whole world about what you've just discovered. You know everything there is to know about Legos, Avengers and Justice League and what fits into which category. I don't know half of what you know in that regards. You never forget a fact about animals, the earth or space. You've probably never been taught the scientific method but I've seen you use it. You love to discover what works and what doesn't. The why and how of things. You are one of the most amazing kids I have ever known. Most importantly you were created by a God who loved you before you were ever born and He still loves you, even more than I love you and that's a heck of lot. At least to the moon and back a dozen times. You are loved! You are special! And you are just right just the way you are!
Sadly I didn't say that though I did mumble some encouraging things but thankfully I have tomorrow. And tomorrow I shall try to communicate all of this to him and go to school and try and make things better for him. If there's one thing you've got Elijah, you've got a mama that has your back and I will always try to get what is best for you.