My oldest, this boy who made me a mother, was created very much in my image.
The long, lean build, the oval face, and narrow hazel eyes. He’s my reader, the first child to sit on my lap for hours and look at picture books. As time went on we would take turns reading and finally snuggle side by side each lost in our own fictional world.
Years of soaking in words gave my oldest a proficiency of language that leads not only to him being an accomplished academic, but also a master of the one liner. This child who made me a mother can match my banter and wit tit-for-tat. We get lost in our own silly world together and it’s wonderful.
I used to urge him to “tell me more” just to keep him talking, to keep him near. What a great joy to hear my words reflected back to me, “How was your day, Mom? Give me details,” as if he too needs to touch base with center. Our discussions don’t even skip a beat when my son turns to me to make a ridiculous face. We both know that a fish face or fake suprise face belongs between, “What’s for dinner?” and “How was your French test?”
As he’s gotten older, the tables have turned and he tucks us in at night. His snuggles are precious to me, even when I pay the price of a game of Would You Rather? Sandwiched between my husband and son feeling like the most blessed woman on earth, I must listen to questions involving gross bodily functions. “Would you rather eat a pound of boogers for a week or drink a cup of pee once? Mom, you have to play the game.” And I do because I know he is growing up and away from me.
These moments, these conversations, this connection… these have long defined motherhood.
But what if motherhood feels like traversing two very different worlds, never quite feeling fully at home in either place?
When I think of who I am as a mom, I think – advocate, manager, health care provider – for I also have a child with a disability. He requires so much of my time, physical effort, and emotional fortitude. He stakes claim to much of who I am as a person.
But he was not first to make me a mom.
On those days when I am done with seizures or frustrated by school goals or knee deep in insurance issues, my oldest is given like a gift. He bridges my worlds of sick and healthy, of overwhelmed and comfortable. Before I took my youngest to the hospital for a major medical procedure this summer, my oldest used his words to heal me in our very own language.
Because of him I can stand with other moms and say, “me too.” As much as I’ve felt the isolation of raising a child with a disability and sought out those moms who “get it”, I’ve also longed for the moms of neuro-typical kids to tell me I belong. They’ve known motherhood all along, yet I need to be reminded. Motherhood isn’t always keeping watch in a hospital, logging hours of medical research, or preparing for the next health battle.
My oldest, created in my image, is wholly his unique self and still wholly mine.
These ordinary moments which are treasures…this is motherhood too.
When Heather isn’t embarrassing her children by singing into a spatula and dancing around the kitchen or cheering on her oldest at his track meets, she blogs at Team Aidan. Join her there to learn more about raising a child with a disability.