At Mass this morning, as I tried to calm down Christopher and the priest looked at me with concern (Christopher was slapping me and screaming), I had a few thoughts. My first thought was a prayer (please, Lord, help me to be the mother that Christopher needs, and please don't let me neglect Dominic in my mothering of Christopher), but then I was thinking of parents of kids that have special needs.
When Jason and I were first married I worked in Garden City at the hospital and I would stay there during the week and come home on the weekends. When I was pregnant my doctor put me on weight lifting restriction and I went from working in-patient to doing out-patient therapy. This allowed me a unique experience one afternoon. A couple came in with their young son who had CP and who they were just a little worried that he was getting too tight on certain muscles. I watched as the therapist did an evaluation and walked his family through some stretches. I watched, and listened, as this PT told the parents that even if the son expressed pain (he was non-verbal, but his face was full of expression) they needed to do the stretching to the level he was now teaching them. The mother seemed pained, but she did the stretching as she was taught. The father was much more stoic about it, but he too flinched when his son yelled out in pain.
Later I was telling Jason about that moment and I said, how do they do it? And he said something to the effect of, that he imagined they didn't think about it, that they were parents and that they did what needed to be done for their kids. I mentioned then, as I have numerous times when faced with watching a parent and their special needs kiddo, that they were chosen. Those kids were lucky/blessed that they were given to the parents that they had; that their parents were able to handle everything with grace and be the best parents for that child.
Until this moment, I never gave any thought at all to us being chosen as the parents for Christopher. I mean, more than the obvious. I had never thought of us as being parents of a special needs kid and doing what needs to be done for that child and just doing it. But as I looked at the priest this morning, and as I saw the mom behind us reach up and give Christopher the sign of peace and smile at us, I realized that people might have those thoughts about me, about us. "How do they do that?" "Why can't she stop his slapping and his screaming?" And then Christopher pulled away from the swaddle/hug he was wrapped in my arms, and I braced myself for his screech, he looked me right in the eyes and he smiled at me and then he hugged me. My heart melted and I was filled with such joy; that is how parents of children with special needs do it. Those wonderful, loving moments when the child expresses in whatever way that they can, that they feel safe with you, that they love you unconditionally. During the consecration Christopher is entranced; he watches the priest do all the motions, he beats his breast at the consecration as he has watched his dad and mom do, and he often lifts his hands and flaps his fingers in front of his face in excitement. Those moments make up for every single difficult moment.
Tomorrow we'll have the video chat with the psychiatrist and we'll have a definite path of what to do next. I continue to pray that God blesses me with being able to be the kind of mother that Christopher needs, but I'm going to be adding another prayer of thanksgiving that I get to be his mother, that we get to be a part of his world-he has such a very small world right now, but that we are part of it is an amazing gift.
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