Friday, July 6, 2012

Lessons Learned from and 8 Year Old.


Eight years ago, on July 8, my son was born.   He is an amazing, handsome, funny, smart, and loving little man, and I have learned so much from him.   Things he probably doesn't even know or understand, but things that I have carried with me and will continue to do so forever.

And why you might ask, have I chosen this time to write about him?  Because for the past week or so I have been really emotional, and sometimes close to tears.   (In fact today at the gym, I was almost in tears on the elliptical trainer for no apparent reason..and for a second I thought I was losing it!!  ha!)  I was wondering if I was having a break, when I realized that it was July...the anniversary of his birth, and in many ways, this month will always be a reminder of what we went through with him, and what a wonderful place of peace we have found.  And I need to take it as a reminder of what I have tried to take away from our experiences.....and hopefully share with others.

He was born with laryngo and trachealmalacia, mitochondrial disease, a tethered spinal cord, and an Arnold Chiari brain malformation.   He was floppy, and couldn't hold his head.   He cried all the time.   He made horrible, scary noises when he took a breath, and he choked when he ate.   I was scared of him, and loved him all at the same time.  

By the time he reaches this, his eighth birthday in a few days, he will have undergone something like eight major surgeries, has been hospitalized more times than I can count, and has been under general anesthesia at lease a few times each year he's been alive.   He has seen specialist doctors in four different states, at four major hospitals.  He's been poked, prodded, tubed, cut, and listened to. 

And I tell you this, not because I am sad, or looking for sympathy for myself or for him, but because I want to share what this little boy has taught me about being strong. 

When he was little, we were told that his future was uncertain.   He may not thrive.   He may not walk or run.   He may not speak.    There were lots of scary words being thrown around in his early life.    

But this guy....he is amazing.   He runs.   He plays.   He dances.   He loves music, and he plays computer.   He talks....A LOT sometimes.   He can run the remote for the tv better than I can.   Sure...he has some problems.   He's not the most graceful, he doesn't tolerate heat or cold, he learns differently than lots of others....and he's probably not going to grow up to play football or baseball.   

We never gave him the expectation of anything other than greatness.   We didn't care how FAST he could do something or how SKILLED he would be.   We only cared that he lived his life with joy and happiness, that he worked hard to achieve HIS best, and that he TRY things that might seem hard.   (Even if I WAS standing in the back crying with a knot of worry in my belly. ha!)  And because of this....he continues to move forward even with some small obstacles in his way.   Sometimes he stumbles, sometimes he wants to quit....but that spark in him that saved him as a baby keeps him going....always.  And because of this...he thrives. 
(You see the correlation to our lives here, right??) 

His health is stable and good, although we are on alert always.   He is beginning to understand how his conditions make him different, but he has never let them give him a reason to stop.   

And so....this is how I want to be.   I want to realize that even if my path isn't the same as anyone else, that it can still lead me where I want to go.   I may have to work harder sometimes, but in the end...it will be worth it.  I may stumble, or falter, but as long as I stay the course I am exhibiting strength of mighty proportion.   Being strong isn't always being biggest, fastest, or boldest....

And finally and probably more so , he has taught me that life is a gift, and wasting it just cannot be an option.  To be able to see what is truly worth worrying about, has changed my life forever.   When I start to get caught up in the small things, all I have to do is look at him....and remember those early days, and suddenly the dishes in the sink don't seem quite so important.

So, I thank you Andy, from the bottom of my heart.   Your tenacity and courage have taught me that strength often has more to do with forging ahead and taking life as it comes than barreling through and breaking down barriers.  Being your mom has made me a stronger (and better) person. 

Be healthy everyone.   Be happy everyone.   And don't sweat the small stuff.