In from the summer heat and through the refreshingly cool sips of my mint mocha frappe, I listen as the other moms discuss the best carseat brands and how little their baby slept the night before. I love these moments: a break in the day to relax with other moms, out of the house, and where I don’t have to worry about how loud J is or feel weird about changing his diaper right there on the floor. In the peace and solidarity of the moment, I looked around at the group and an unexpected, unwelcome pit dropped into my stomach. All of the babies there that day were 4-6 months old. A few of them were doing tummy time and pushing themselves around, playing with their toys; ya’ know, doing normal baby stuff. Others were content napping in their mama’s laps or were chewing on their fingers. And then there was my sweet boy. J had just turned one year old, although you’d never know it by his appearance or behavior. He was cranky. He was teething but couldn’t chew or put things in his mouth. He was tired but wouldn’t sleep in my lap. He was the same size or smaller than most of these much younger babies…As he was fighting me to finish his bottle I was reminded, once again, that he is different.
I usually do just fine in group settings these days. I’m in a really good place of being proud of who J is and am super comfortable talking about our “different” life. But, for some reason, that day I left a moment with moms that was supposed to give me relief with tears welling up in my eyes instead. Sometimes it’s still hard to see babies half of J’s age doing things that he can’t. Sometimes it’s still hard to sit by listening to worries about sleep regressions, babbling, or other milestones and wondering when we will finally get to celebrate those things.
I left to pick up one of J’s many medications and drove around town so he could sleep in the car. In that quiet aimlessness of killing time, God spoke to my saddened heart and made me notice something that I hadn’t before. He assured me that, even on harder days, he is still working in my life and using my baby for his glory. He showed me how he has used J’s disabilities and special needs to mold me into a completely different person than I could have been without him. Yes, he is “different”, but so am I; and I like the new me so much better than the old me!
So, to my baby J I say: your “special needs” have made me a better mom and a better person in general.
If you were typical I’d be half sipping my coffee, half chewing my straw, and lamenting over the same things as all the other moms. Admittedly, that would be a nice change, but multiple diagnoses later, that’s just not our reality. Simply put, you make things complicated. The list of things to do for you never stops growing. I struggle to find time to practice all of your therapies with you each day, I’m always watching the clock for when you need another dose of medicine, and I often fail to remember to put your wrist brace and glasses on you. You can’t stand to be still-you’re jumping in my lap right now, making it hard for me to hit the right letters on the keyboard. But, the thing is, all of that is proof of progress and helps me put things into perspective.
Before you, I was an impatient person/mom who defaulted to anger. I was a worrier who stressed over details and needed the dishes to be put away just so. I was judgmental, selfish and short-sighted. I was convinced that my way of doing things was the only right way. Now, I notice even the smallest improvements in your abilities and you teach me to triumph in each of those small things. Instead of stressing myself into a migraine, I’ve realized how inconsequential so many of the things that we often worry about are (like dish placement in cabinets). I used to hold your crying, spit up covered, flailing body and get so mad that you wouldn’t just drink your milk or go to sleep or something besides scream at me. I am so much more gentle with your tears now. I’ve learned not to take your behavior personally. I’ve learned to be more patient and kind. I understand that, while you are not developmentally on track with babies your age, you could be so much worse off. Everything in our life could be worse off. When I see typical kids, it can make me feel as if our story is broken with missing pages and mistakes…until I read Facebook posts from other special needs moms and realize that we’ve got it good. How bizzare! You have a disability, epilepsy, delays, etc. but we have it good! Before I had you, I had no idea how much I still clung to what my version of a perfect story looks like. Without you, I probably still would know.
Now I can see God’s perfection in places I never did before.
His perfect placement: allowing for treatments and specialty doctors that you needed without having to travel and putting friends in our life to support and help us.
His perfect timing: working out issues with jobs, transportation, home repairs, medical tests, and even your birth day.
His perfect creations: YOU. With all your problems and challenges- still you are His perfect creation- His masterpiece.
I know it’s hard, sometimes very hard, but it’s important that we all take the time to put things into perspective- God’s perspective! I can get so discouraged about J’s progress but all it takes is on quick scroll through the special needs moms Facebook group I’m apart of to kick me in the butt and remind me how blessed I am. Equally, it takes just as short of a scroll through my regular news feed to be brought back down. That’s why, in our overly saturated media world, we need God’s lenses more than ever. He uses each and every detail of our lives, no matter how massive or insignificant, for His glory.
Take a look: What parts of your life might he be using to refine you right now? What highs and lows do you need to see through God’s eyes? Ask him to show you and, oh, how he will! Comment below!
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.” Romans 8:28-30 NLT