Though I utilize my blog mostly to chronicle my family’s journey as it relates to ASD-Autism Spectrum Disorder- tonight, the Struggle Bus is taking a pit stop. Some part of my heart just needs me to put into words how precious my children, all three of them, are to me.
Perhaps I’m feeling sentimental because for the first time, today, all three of my children went off to school, leaving our home very empty and quiet. Maybe the lack of regular sibling arguments gave me some time to reflect upon the gifts my husband and I have been given. They are gifts, each one of them.
Some time ago I stumbled across an article online that highlighted twenty or so things a parent should say to their child to let them know how loved they are. When I see articles like this, I typically bookmark them with the intention of reading then later. A quick check to my “Favorites” shows seven pieces with similar content. Sadly, I would be willing to bet I’ve yet to read one. This is not because I don’t care, or they’re not well-written. In truth, it is because sometimes, I’m afraid my parenting skills don’t measure up to those of the person who took the time to write such a list. I’m often so exhausted by bedtime, those kinds of deep statements aren’t even a blip on my radar. On a normal night, I sing my youngest daughter a song, play a silly “jailbreak” game with my son, and spend a few minutes easing whatever worries are weighing on the mind of my oldest daughter, who is beginning to realize that life becomes much more complicated the older she gets. I tell each one of them I love them, and wish them sweet dreams.
When I don’t save those stories for later, I usually scroll through them quicky. I’m either looking for simple inspiration after a tough day, or hoping to find that I’m already saying some of the “right things.” In any case, I came across a simple, yet profound statement in one such article, and it really struck a cord with me. Because I don’t want it to lose its significance, I save it for the toughest of parenting days- those where it doesn’t seem like my children and I will ever see eye-to-eye. No matter how that night ends, I tell them this:
“If I was given a choice- if I could pick any child in the world to be my child, I would pick you, every time.”
Sometimes, I am answered with just a hug. Other times, one of them will ask me why I’d choose them. I embrace those opportunities to list for them a reason or two that I think they are wonderful. Tonight, though, I want to make note of just how much I adore each of them.
You are my first child, and for so many reasons, that’s a hardship in and of itself. Being first is kind of like being a guinea pig. You were the first to give me the gift of being a mother, but with that, you were, and in many ways, will continue to be the subject of much trial and error. You are our child of “firsts.” The first we had to potty-train, the first we had to help learn to read and write- the first to go to school. We don’t know anyone at the school, or the politics, so we often learn of activities and programs you would have loved after we’ve already missed out on them. Our lack of experience has often come at your expense, yet you don’t harbor resentment about those things. You accept our many apologies and more, you continue to love and trust us unconditionally. What a treasured gift that is!
You’re unbelievably intelligent. You’re so intelligent that I often worry about how I will keep you with you as you grow older. Your mind is creative and amazing. I know simple answers are not enough for you now, at nine, and certainly won’t be enough in the future. You make me realize I need to stay informed to be able to answer your questions. In doing so, you challenge me and make me better.
You’re incredible. When you love something, it consumes you and you put all you have into mastering it. At eight years old, you joined a running team and motivated me through a 5k in just 31 minutes. I was there to support you, and you supported me. Right now you want to be an Olympic runner. I have no doubt you can be. Your spirit and inner fire shine so brightly. I look up to you.
I know life isn’t always easy, but you’re blossoming into a young woman with incredible character. You do what is right, and are just plain fun to talk to. I just love the child you are!
You make my heart melt. You radiate love. You live to give it and receive it. Both are so beautiful to me.
You’re a crazy, rambunctious boy, but also one of the most easy-going souls I’ve ever known. Because of this, you give the family balance. You’re happy as long as we read and play with you. Everything else is irrelevant. That kind of pure, simple joy is so underrated. We are so lucky to have this in you.
You are kind. You are drawn to younger children and babies. From watching you as you’ve grown, I now understand it is because it brings you great joy to make them smile and laugh. You want everyone to be happy. At times, you exhibit empathy far beyond your years. God-willing, you will make an incredible husband and father someday.
You accept everyone and treat each individual you meet with care and compassion. I could not be prouder of you for anything.
You exhibit strength that you do not even know you possess. It is nothing short of magical to see you clear the many hurdles you face at such a young age.
You have been my greatest teacher. You’ve taught me to focus more, as a parent, on the PEOPLE my children are, and not on the timeline of their accomplishments. You’ve taught me to throw percentages and statistics out the window- they are merely numbers. You’ve shown me the beauty in celebrating the little things… And that the little things are what truly matter. You make me see something beautiful in every day.
You have taught me how to look and listen- that communication comes in many forms. And because it didn’t come easy to you, your voice continues to be one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard.
So, to my children- you are loved. No other children could teach me the things you have. No other children could fill my heart the way you do. It doesn’t matter if, at the end of the day, we saw eye-to-eye or not. I love you, I’m incredibly proud of you and I’d pick you, every time.
All my love,