I Have Hope

In the 7th grade, I was a pimply-faced 12-year-old. My breakout that year was bad, and my mom didn’t allow make-up. As I tried desperately to be a cool girl, I remember overhearing a guy call me “pizza face.” I wanted the world to open up and swallow me as I stood there in the hallway. It didn’t seem fair I had to keep walking and sit through math class feeling like the ugliest and most worthless person on the planet. That’s probably the day we learned fractions, hence why I still can’t understand them.

At 28, my acne has cleared up, and my outer shell has hardened a bit. I still don’t understand fractions, and I blame the mean boy for that, who I pray is somewhere with a beer gut in his mom’s basement. Actually, I take that back. I hope that boy grew up and had children of his own. Maybe a daughter who he would do anything for, or a son who is his little buddy. Seeing pain on either of their faces would cause pain of his own, I know it. I’m the same way.

And, so, I hope this now-grown-up boy teaches his children that each child in their class deserves a kind word. Whether they come across another child with unfortunate acne, or maybe clothes that seem a little big as a result of hand-me-downs. I hope he teaches them to smile at the little boy in the wheelchair at the end of their table, or offer to hold the door for the child who walks in the class with his leg braces on.

I hope he can teach them to be mindful for the kids who have a harder time exercising patience, or for the kid who has trouble making decisions. I plan on teaching my children that. It’s just important as reading, or math, or learning to tie your shoe. The little girl with the bald head from chemo still needs a buddy to sit with at lunch… and the little boy with the small hand might be a little self conscious himself.

Parents of special needs babies live in fear of them growing into special needs kids. Babies don’t need acceptance and validation from anyone but their parents, and they usually, hopefully, have that in abundance. We wrap them in our arms, like a cocoon, and tell them they’re beautiful, they’re brave, they’re strong, and courageous. They’re our inspiration. Their smile brings tears to our eyes and a puts a flutter in our heart.

But, they’re growing. They’re always growing, and we eventually will feel their fingertips slip from our hand, and we will be left holding only hope. Continue reading

When Later Never Comes

We’ve all had those days. They start off with a rainy morning, so, of course, the dog leaves mud all over the floor after you let him back in. Add that to the honey from last night’s chicken nuggets, and you find yourself mopping before 8 a.m., while telling your daughter you’ll let her help you feed the fish later.

The toddler runs off to play in her room/ruin all your make up, and you change the baby’s diaper after his morning bottle and into play clothes. You start working on tummy time (guiltily remembering you didn’t do near enough yesterday!) when the doorbell rings. It’s just the UPS guy, but the doorbell caused the dog to act like someone burned him with a hot poker, and barked like he was dying, which terrified the baby and set him off on a 20 minute crying spree.

Trying to calm him down while also pulling the package on the doorstep inside without it getting too wet is impossible, so he has to lay on the floor while you duck out, hoping no one sees you in a t-shirt from high school and your polka dot pajama bottoms.

Your daughter chooses that moment to ask you to play horses with her. She’s dolled up in her best dress, which you were sure you put away somewhere she couldn’t reach. You tell her you’ll play later, all the while pulling the dress off, and finding her something safer (see: machine washable) to play in. Continue reading

Hug Another Mother, Today.

I used to think my opinion mattered. In my sheltered, inexperienced mind, pre-kids, I would judge other parents. My face rarely revealed my disgust or shock or annoyance, but those were common emotions as I observed the tiny children I came across in public, even those of my friends. How could they be doing such a terrible job; it seemed so easy! Wipe the child’s nose when it runs– simple! Tell them no when they asks for french fries, and order applesauce instead. Why was that so hard? I was bewildered by parents who made it seem like such a struggle to keep kids on the right track. Laziness, I assumed. Inattentive parenting.

I was better than that. I would be better than that. I had a long list of things I would “never” do as a parent, and an equally as long list of things I would “always” do. Doing the right thing, the best thing, would always be a clear decision, a choice between black or white. I would always choose the best path, regardless of its ease.

And, then, I became a mom, and my memories came back to bite me in my smug behind. Parenting is hard. Not because we are lazy, or inattentive, or confused on which decision is the best decision, but because there are so many decisions to make! Picking my battles is imperative to keeping my sanity, though the times we go with the easier battles causes guilt to form a small ball in our stomachs. Did we do it right? Was that age appropriate? Will she hate us for this? Are we doing what’s best for her? Bite sized guilt meals, thanks. Continue reading