“I think Nathan makes you a better mom.”
That’s what my sweet husband said to me after I verbally vomited out to him all of the ways I feel like I’m failing both my children and that I just don’t have what it takes to be the mom that they need me to be.
They couldn’t be more different. I felt like I was just getting into a groove of motherhood with Mac when the surprise of Nathan took me totally and completely off guard. Now, I am having to continue to be the mom of playdates, preschool, karate, swimming, healthy snacks, nutritious meals, manners, reading, loving Jesus, and learning how to write his name. Now I am learning a whole new set of skills. Having to learn to be the mom of therapy and subspecialists, navigating the school system starting at the age of three, administratively managing EOBs and prescriptions, tube feeding, gracefully responding to people staring, and do what seems like a million at home therapy exercises. It’s a lot. And a lot of different. I like learning new things and I like variety. It’s just that there’s not enough of me to go around and It just that I feel someone is always have to sacrifice. If Mac’s tagging along to a therapy appointment, then he’s not getting a playdate. If Nathan is in the preschool pick-up line with me, then he’s not getting a nap.
I’m sure much of this is what any mom of multiple kids experiences. I’m not trying to sound like a saint or that I have so much more work than others. More, just the extreme differences of my kids highlight how unqualified and incapable I am as one person. How much I need God to provide everything we require and depend on Him to prioritize and plan out our days.
It’s hard for me to not feel resentful at times for all of the extra things, that quite honestly aside from Nathan, I would have little to no interest in learning. The neurological messages and muscular movements involved in swallowing and walking are complex and fascinating, but who cares if it’s all working, right? It’s when it isn’t that you realize ordinary miracles are all around us.
I often think of my life before Nathan. I spent a lot of time focusing on and longing for perfect. I wanted my house to look perfect, my kid to behave perfect, my marriage to look perfect. I no longer have time for obsessing over the right paint color, choosing the perfect dress for family photos, analyzing the right new appliance for our family. It’s not that those things don’t matter to me any more, it’s just that they don’t get the same about of brain space as they used to. Before I unconsciously thought they were the most important. Now, they are only sort of important. Properly important.
For example, over Labor Day our fridge sprung a leak and we needed to purchase a new one. Since my in-laws were visiting, they babysat Nathan while the three of us marched blindly into Home Depot. We did minimal comparative research on our phones in the store, asked the salesmen his opinion, and placed the order. Over. Done. It was purchased in about an hour. That’s it folks. No weeks of analyzing Consumer Reports. We are starting to learn that, although it was a fairly significant purchase for us (’cause you know you use your fridge everyday) it wasn’t the most important thing. It was the best appliance shopping experience my husband and I ever did together. We didn’t waste more of our precious time than we needed to on the whole ordeal. And as an added bonus I now have a fridge that I love and feed my family from everyday.
My gaze is shifting from the things of this world to the little souls hanging out in my incredibly messy family room. Not only is Nathan amazing us by his sitting, crawling, and all the other things he’s done so far. I’ve been struck by the miracle of Mac too.
I’m so, so grateful for my five-year-old. I’m noticing ordinary kid things that a couple of years ago I would completely be taking for granted. It’s the expected things that he does that blow me away. Like when he runs across the room, I think, “I can’t believe how well his legs work.” The questions that he asks fascinate me by the fact that he is processing things and can verbalize what he’s thinking. Some kids are non-verbal. It’s a really big deal that he expresses himself on the level he does. The fact that he dresses himself is also mind-blowing to me. I don’t care as much about what he chooses to wear on non-school days. It’s just such a stinkin’ big deal because I don’t know that Nathan will ever dress himself.
Another gift of Nathan that’s for sure. He’s showing me the miracles in ordinary. Something that I would have otherwise missed as I was planning out my perfect life.
So maybe my husband is right. Nathan is making me a better mom. Not because I’m doing everything perfectly, but because God is using him to point me toward the things that truly matter. Ordinary miracles.
These shots are ordinary miracles to me. They were taken on my phone outside of the Dell Rehab Center. Week after week we watch kids with disabilities use their walkers and wheelchairs to get to and from their cars using this very same sidewalk. It takes them a long time. They struggle and cry with each step. And here my big kid is burning some serious energy – running, laughing, jumping – right before he has to sit through two of Nathan’s therapy appointments. Miracle, my friends.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trails, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1: 2-4
My book, Beauty in Broken Dreams: A Hopeful Handbook for the Early Years as a Special Needs Parent, is now available on Amazon!
Also be sure to check out my list of Favorite Books on Disability!