On this Mother’s Day eve, I am sitting with Gerry as he watches “Star Wars” for the first time. As with all holidays, it’s hard not to take this moment to reflect back on the past year since last Mother’s Day. Seeing as I am distracted by “the Force” and by looking over at Gerry’s face every 5 minutes to make sure he’s not too scared, I’m reduced to writing this as a list.
- I’ve gone from having two boys and a little baby to having three full fledged boys in the house. There is no “baby” Lewis anymore – now, at 18 months, he’s almost as big as Howie and just as strong. He sits on Gerry’s lap for a book, he runs screaming with laughter through the house with Howie, and climbs on to the windowsill yelling “Dada Dada!” when Tim’s truck pulls into the driveway. Best of all, he finally said “Mama”. It wasn’t to my face, but to others when I left the room. I’ll take it.
- My vocabulary has expanded in ways that I never expected, and in some ways wish it hadn’t. I am now intimately familiar with acronyms like “IEP”, “OT” and “ASD”, and with words like “sensory integration disorder”, “stimming”, “proprioceptive”, “perseverate”, “weighted blankets” and “autism”. However, the more I understand these words, the more I understand Howie. And I wouldn’t trade that knowledge for anything.
-In this year I have strengthened the incredible friendships I had before, and made some amazing new friends. At a time when I needed my friends the most, they were there for me and a few went above and beyond the call of duty. My new friends have come to me through my journey with Howie, and I have come to value their advice, commentary and sense of humor. We have come to this common place by different paths, but our shared goal is to make our kids the best they can be. Without them, I would be lost.
-More than ever, I have become acutely aware of how lucky I am to live where I do. I live in a state that values its citizens by covering many medical procedures that aren’t available in other places. I live in a town where people care about one another, look out for each other, and bring in their neighbors’ trash cans when they are away. I live in a school district that puts their students first, so that I am not fighting tooth and nail for the services that my family needs.
-Maybe it’s because for the first time in 4 years I finally had six hours of straight sleep, but I finally decided to start taking care of me and asking for help from others. I’m trying to run every morning with a goal of running the Flutie Foundation 5K in October, and without my friend pushing me to run to “just one more mailbox”, I’d probably still be on the couch. I’m taking the 2 hours I get in the middle of the day while Lewis is napping to just relax, read, write and play Facebook Scrabble, and not run around the house obsessing over all the things I can’t accomplish quietly enough to keep Lewis sleeping. I’m trying to make sure I get out of the house with some friends at least once a month for dinner, drinks and conversation that doesn’t revolve around the last time someone pooped. And for the first time ever, I’m hiring a babysitter for a couple hours a week in the summer with the hopes that someday Tim and I might actually get out of the house together on a regular basis.
- But most importantly, I have learned a lot about me as a person and a mother. I have finally made peace with the fact that I am not, and will never be, the world’s most perfect mom. In fact, I have moments when I’m not sure the title of “world’s most average mother” would fit. I have lost permission slips, forgotten appointments, sent a certain 2nd grader to school with an expired snack, yelled, screamed, and threatened to just walk away. There are some moments in the day when even “Calgon” couldn’t help take me away. But I know that at the end of the day I am the “world’s best mom that I can be”. I will be there for my kids in whatever way needed and will fight for what they need to the end.
Speaking of that, it’s time to say goodnight to Gerry. We turned the movie off after an hour when I noticed him staring wide-eyed at the TV on the edge of the couch. It’s a lot of movie for a kid who, at age four, cried at the movie “Cars” because he was sad that Lightening McQueen didn’t get to say goodbye to Mater. We’ll watch the rest tomorrow night as way to end to Mother’s Day together.
Happy Mother’s Day to me and all the other mothers, mothers-to-be and mothers-should-be out there.