Parenting is not an easy job, especially if you have a child who has challenges above and beyond the ‘normal’ struggles of daily life. Some days seem bleak. Sometimes you face a string of them and you wonder if you are truly up to the challenge. And then there are days like today.
Tonight I had an opportunity to put a smile on my teenage son’s face, after he faced many days in a row where smiling seemed beyond our reach. It was just the two of us, and I decided we needed a surprise. He needed to be surprised and I needed to be the one to deliver it. 🙂 It wasn’t anything big or expensive. It was simple. Easy. No stress.
We went to the gym.
I joined a new fitness club recently that has a whirlpool and a pool. The look on his face when he saw the new gym and all of the cool things we could do together, the joy on his face as he sunk down into the whirlpool, the smile as he swam laps while I sat, cross-legged in front of his lane, timing him (at his request). It was like he was 5 again: watch me, Mom! Watch me!
I can’t even begin to describe the joy that washed over me. We just hung out and talked with no agenda, no time constraints, no pressure to be anything but ourselves, no pressure to be anywhere but right where we were. We joked with each other, laughed…we so needed to laugh and forget life for a while.
I don’t always feel like I have it all together. I don’t have all the answers. Although my daughter seems to think that I do from the extraordinary number of random, obscure questions she hurtles at me on a daily basis. (Thank God for Google.) Some days I wonder who let me leave the hospital with these tiny, vulnerable creatures who are now taller than me.
And then there are moments like tonight that remind me what it’s all about, bad days and uncertainty aside. Tonight reminded me of how profoundly grateful I am that I get to be their mom. I know exactly how lucky I am to be a parent, as so many struggle to get pregnant or adopt. Mothering my children has given me a wonderful opportunity. It’s an opportunity to face my own struggles so that I can be stronger for someone else. An opportunity to give to someone else the things I missed. It doesn’t erase the past, but it certainly helps tip the balance and cast more light than darkness. And today more than ever, we can all use more light.
I don’t have much to give financially. What I do have plenty of is my time, my caring, my goofy humor, my love of hobbits, my storytelling, my lessons learned, my perspective, my love and devotion. I always thought my purpose in life was to write things that make people think differently. But now I see that my purpose in life is to marinate my kids in love, encouragement, nurturing, and simple moments like this one tonight. It doesn’t require money. It just requires being present. And that I can do.
I’m not sure which one of us had more fun tonight. I’m not even sure if this evening will make it into his ‘favorite memories’ collection. All I know is this: I am so incredibly lucky that I get to be here.