“Soon he’ll be walking, and then your life is over!” The well meaning manager at the grocery store said to me after asking how old J was. The flustered man at the neighboring register looked at his two daughters sitting in his cart, talking up a storm and then looked at me, “That’s the truth! I’ll trade with you!” I stuttered and fumbled around my words trying to figure out what to say in response or if I should speak up at all. He has no idea how lucky he is to have two typical girls who walk, talk, eat, and, yes, annoy him. Why would anyone rather have a one-year-old who is still 100 percent dependent on them for their every need? For every bottle, for every diaper, and for every single step. But that man didn’t know any of that. He didn’t know that J simply won’t be walking any time soon. He doesn’t even crawl or sit up on his own yet. My brain filled with possible responses, but, “you don’t want to do that” was all I could mutter as I looked down at my total on the screen trying to work through my emotions.
I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty, but I have to say it: Parents, do you know how lucky you are?!? If you have normal, typical, regular kids…you have no idea what a blessing it is to baby-proof, potty train, and hear those same 4 words incorrectly pronounced over and over again. We Tux-proof for all the things our dog might eat before we leave the house, but we have yet to have the need to baby proof for our one-year-old. Please don’t get me wrong, I am NOT complaining! I know how incredibly lucky I am to have my special baby boy! I don’t take him for granted at all. Because of his cerebral palsy, every tiny improvement is precious to us. Every smile, sound and movement is a celebration and I know that God has given him to us for a special purpose. I also know that J is way better off than a lot of kids with CP. We’re blessed he’s doing as well as he is.
This unexpected grocery store experience (aren’t they always unexpected experiences?) got me thinking about how much in our lives we take for granted. All of us do it. Whether it’s your kids, your job, your home, your friends, your food, your health, your spouse, your singleness, your car, etc., do you know how lucky you are? Hang in here with me! Life is hard. Life really sucks sometimes. I get that! At 24 I had a special needs son. Last year we lost a car, a job, and a TV in the same week. Our AC unit went out in June-the month my baby was due. We have new medical bills coming in everyday. I have college debt. My parents divorced. I’ve come home to the water or electricity having been cut off. I get that life is hard. I get that some of you have been through MUCH worse! But I also know that if you’re reading this, you probably have something to be so very thankful for.
I’m not trying to be cheesy, I’m trying to be real. I know I allow myself to wallow in self pity too often; especially as I scroll through the picture perfect lives that social media falsely portrays. You probably do it, too. Recently I’ve been trying to write in my journal at least one thing I’m thankful for each day to help myself keep perspective. Let’s stop for a moment on this Independence Day and honestly consider all of the things we have to be thankful for.
- Since I began this post, J has learned to sit up without support!
- On his birthday two days ago he finally cut his first tooth…actually 2 of them!
- I have a home with AC and running water
- My family loves my son (and us)
- I have different clothes to wear each day of a week
- Different people have blessed us by sending formula for J
- We have great friends here who pray for us and enjoy spending time with us
- I have access to medical care, glasses, and medicine if I need it
- I get to shower regularly
- We have access to oreos, watermelon, cookies, and fresh salad if we want
- I have a husband, a baby, and a dog
Some of these things are unique to me and some are common in America. Some of you might have a little less and some of you have a lot more. But let’s try to never take for granted whatever it is that we do have.
In the comments below, let me know what you’re thankful for today. Today specifically, I’m thankful J put himself back to sleep this morning!
“Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine.” Psalms 16:5 NLT