This has been sitting in my drafts for a few weeks, but I think I’ll go ahead and post it….
Dana Nieder, mommy blogger of “Uncommon Sense” has done it again…I first told you about Dana’s Amsterdam International a while back. Well, a couple weeks ago, she posted a new blog which has again resonated with me in a way I didn’t expect. Click the link to read, “The Mom I Would Have Been” so you get the full meaning of this post. (It’s pretty long or I’d paste it here)
Dana has an almost 5 year old daughter with special needs, (to my knowledge she’s also still undiagnosed, I can’t recall seeing a diagnosis) and she’s recently had another baby who is, as of now, a “typical” baby. In her post she talks about catching up with a friend over a cup of coffee and the friend then invites her to join a Moms Group with other friends, and then she suddenly realizes that things like this she missed out on when her older daughter was born. Life was full of appointments and therapies instead of play groups and worrying about “less important” things like colds and pacifiers. The post describes a loss I’ve often read about, where parents of special needs children mourn the life that would have been and the “typical” child they thought they would have. But she also realizes there is another loss suffered, and that is the loss of the “parents we would have been” if we had “typical” kids. And that loss is just as important as recognizing that our children are different, we as parents are also changed. This is way oversimplified and her words are so beautiful I’m hardly doing them justice…please read her post.
Now, my story is a little different than hers in that I had my “typical” child first, and then Braxton came along and turned my world and all the parenting ideals I had upside down. So why on Earth would this even apply to you, Vanessa? Well, I’ll tell you why 🙂 Perhaps, this a little bit of mommy guilt and me beating myself up, but mostly it’s an eye opener for me to do better. Dana says in her post, that had her daughter been “typical” that
“Parenting would have been a lot easier….but I wouldn’t have appreciated it.”
Bam! Like a brick. She is absolutely right. I’m far more appreciative of all the little things with Braxton than I ever was with Aileen. I took it all for granted and never questioned if she’d crawl, talk, walk, run, any of it. It was just a matter of when. But even some of the things she thinks she missed out on, I still missed out on with Aileen. Things like play groups, dance classes, play dates in the park…all of those things. Sometimes I regret not doing any of those things with Aileen, but I know I spent time with her the best way I could and did everything possible to create just as special memories and bonds with her. I was in college when I had her and I was not going to give up. It took much longer than expected, but I graduated. Graduated despite having a child, despite working full time, sometimes 2 or 3 jobs at a time just to make ends meet. There was no extra time or money for things like gymnastics or dance classes. And now, now that I don’t have school and work, I have a child who demands extra attention and working around appointments and therapies still doesn’t leave time for those things, but the experience has made changes that would not have happened otherwise.
Although, Braxton is my 2nd child, I do still mourn the loss of the parent I would have been. He’s my second, but he’s my first son. I dreamed of playing catch with him too, watching him climb and jump off all the furniture, I was always told boys were just crazy wild, and while it scared me, I looked forward to it. I’m sure Joseph looked forward to that father/son bond as well. They definitely still have it, but like everything else, it’s different than we expected. Braxton has been such a blessing in our life. We are the lucky ones here. Braxton has made us look at life differently. Our expectations are different. Our worries are different. Our parenting is different. Aileen is different.
Braxton has taught me things about myself that I never knew I possessed or could do. Patience is still a virtue that I’m lacking, but I’m learning to be more patient with him and everyone else in life. I’m more organized than I ever used to be. I have charts, spreadsheets, journals, documents, and all kinds of stuff that I’ve had to do get his medical things in order. I’m more knowledgeable than I ever was. I’ve always been one to read and research anything and everything, and you can bet Braxton has put that in overdrive. I’ve researched everything out there about every diagnosis they even hinted at, I’ve read every article, I’ve read blogs, and now have even reached out to other mom’s. I know more about the medical field than I ever really wanted to know. Sure, in elementary I wanted to be a doctor (who didn’t?!), but I had no idea I’d gain just as much experience as some doctors/nurses once I had a child of my own. Life is still hurried, and I always feel like I’m racing against the clock, but I’m learning to take the time to slow down and just appreciate the moments. My house is in shambles
sometimes, most of the time, because the dishes will still be there, the laundry will still be there, but the kids won’t ever be this age again. This time shall pass and I won’t have the time with them that I do now, so I am trying to take advantage of that as much as I can.
There is still plenty of time to create memories for Aileen. When she’s older, she won’t remember that mom didn’t put her in dance class when she was 3. She will remember, that mom read to her every night, that mom kissed and bandaged every boo-boo, that mom was there when she needed to be in the best way she could be. That’s all we can do for our kids is be the best parent we can and try our best to do right for them. I’m trying now to do better with Aileen to spend time with her and be patient with her. I’ve lost my temper and my patience with her more times than I care to admit, so I’m not at all saying it’s been rainbows and butterflies the whole time, but I’m human, I make mistakes, I’m trying. She’s been a great big sister, and I love that she is learning first hand how to accept differences and people of different abilities. She has no clue that Braxton should have been crawling 8 months ago, but now that he is she loves chasing him and playing with him. She sings to him, she shows him books, she shows him toys, she’s learning what he can and can’t tolerate, but it makes no difference to her that he’s late. It’s just pure love.
Dana brought to light things that were always in the back of my mind, but that I just couldn’t or didn’t know how to put in to words. Parenting is tough. There is no guidebook. We are all learning as we go. And it’s our kids who are teaching us. Our kids teach us so much about ourselves and make us test our limits. Braxton has showed me that I can do so much more than I ever thought possible. I never thought I’d be here, but I’m so thankful God has led us here. Braxton has helped to make me the mom I NEED to be. For him. And for Aileen.
“While we try to teach our children all about life, Our children teach us what life is all about.” ~Angela Schwindt