Will turns 10 years old today. My baby is 10. A decade old.
Where did the time go?
By the way, that is a completely facetious question. I know exactly where the damn time went. Trust me.
Will is soaking up all the attention and fuss he's getting today -- which he loves, being the only child/hambone that he is. His birthday is nothing more to him than a celebration of, well, him. For that, I am thankful. So thankful. It should all be tinged in happy, light and joyous moments. Just for him.
This day. His birthday.
Let me tote around the shades of gray it holds. That's my job as his mama.
Perhaps because this marking of his birth falls on a significant number is why I'm brooding. I came to a semi-deep sense of peace with everything just a little bit ago -- but because it's been 10 years since Will came rushing into our lives frighteningly early, I think I'm looking at it more than just a happy holiday.
Parents' lives are changed the day their child is born -- how can they not be? The world as they knew it instantly becomes a different place.
My life was changed in ways I could not even fathom the day Will was born. An entire trimester early. A weight of one pound, 10 ounces. Thirteen inches long. With a questionable mortality rate and precarious health.
I walked out of my office on a Friday afternoon. Less than 24 hours later I was hanging upside down trying not to give birth, numb with morphine, still full of fear and uncertainty.
What a long, strange trip it's been.
As I look at Will today, with his shaggy hair and gap-toothed smile, picking up a basketball with two hands, one of which is hampered with cerebral palsy, I had to stop and catch my breath.
He is amazing. To me, anyway. All things considered.
Been rather introspective the past couple of days, thinking about all the events that led up to Will's abrupt birth -- I suppose that's natural with a milestone like 10 years. While the nuances have faded a bit from memory, there is still so much about that time that is vivid in my mind's eye. But at last it's not overlaid with guilt and angst. For that, I am grateful.
There is so much I've learned in the past decade -- about parenting, children, human nature, medicine, insurance, education, therapy, myself. I've become even more opinionated (if that's possible), patient, open-minded, resourceful, protective and caring. I'm in no way an extraordinary person -- and I still reel with uncomfortable self-awareness if someone, in a well-meaning attempt to try and convey some sense of appreciation, deems me so. I'm simply a mama, playing that parenting card God dealt me.
And speaking of God... I'm still toting around some anger where He's concerned -- at how life is playing out for my boy. It's not easy. So many challenges. Uncertainties. Compromised health issues. Developmental delays. The fact that nothing comes really simply or easily for him. Still don't get it. But have come to peace that I won't get it. Not like I want to. So I move on.
I've coined a phrase (at least I think it's original) that I whip out when people use the term "normal" when comparing Will to other kiddos -- I prefer to think of those guys as "standard issue." Some wise person said that normal's just a setting on a washing machine. Because in addition to his crazy health issues and delays and stuff, young William is just a 10 year old boy. With a wicked sense of humor, a passion for music that grows daily and a love of learning. He likes baseball and game shows and playing outside. His favorite people in the whole world are his daddy and his nana. And he loves going to church like it's his job.
I'd like to think that our little family is helping the cause for special needs kids and their parents by de-mystifying what kids with disabilities look like. Psssst... in case you were wondering, you can't catch cerebral palsy or developmental delays -- pass it on. And I'd much rather you ask questions about Will's condition than stare or point or, yes, refer to him by any number of outdated and currently offensive terms. Believe me, I've heard and seen it all over the years.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't get pings of jealousy when seeing pictures of standard issue families doing standard issue things that just are out of the realm of what our family can handle. I tell myself that it's part of being human. We've lost friends because of our circumstances -- and I understand that, since we don't run in standard issue kid circles. Still kinda hurts though. It's tough because the Mister travels for work during the week so our time, both together and apart, is precious. And tough, to be honest. The isolation can get a little exhausting.
Told you I was in an introspective mood.
OK. Enough of the emotional download.
It's a day to celebrate All Things Will. He is a loud miracle on two legs who wakes up talking and doesn't stop until his head hits the bed (he's not fond of pillows). Opinionated. Funny. Bright. Mischievous. My biggest challenge. My greatest blessing. Now and always.
Over the last decade we've cried more tears, laughed more laughs, sung more songs, seen more doctors, giggled more giggles, watched more Disney Channel and healed more hurts than I ever thought imaginable. Would I change anything? Only for Will. To make his life easier and more predictable. I'm just parenting. 'Tis what it 'tis.
What a long, strange trip it's been.
And I'm the better woman for it.
Happy birthday, my prince.