Friday, March 15, 2013

The Things I've Learned

I haven't written here for a long time, but as Gabriel quickly approaches his third birthday, I've found myself reflecting a lot on my time with him. I've been a mother for 1,091 days--for those without quick access to a calculator, that's 4 days shy of 3 years. I've learned a lot about being a parent, who I am as a mother and a woman, and what's important in life. Here's a list (though certainly not all inclusive) of what my son has taught me so far:

  • I've learned that no matter how hard I tried to introduce my child to vegetables at a young age, my kid hates broccoli. Insisting he eat it, as I always planned in my pre-mom days, does not actually work.
  • I've learned that I no longer view giving him a free cookie from the grocery store bakery as bribery to behave in the store, but instead as a brilliant concept so we can both shop happily.
  • I've learned that cloth diapers are much more hassle than they're worth, and I actually don't care about the environment that much
  • I've learned that watching my husband make my child laugh, or watching him cry when our son is struggling against a Fragile X meltdown, will make me love him in a way I never even imagined on our wedding day.
  • I've learned to be an advocate for my son in the world of doctors, therapies and education, and that I'm not afraid to be confrontational (in a nice way), to ensure his needs are being met.
  • I've learned that I will never again watch a tragedy involving a child unfold in the news, without shedding tears and thinking to myself, "what if that was MY baby?"
  • I've learned that I have come to rely on the advice and understanding of Internet "strangers" who are mothers of Fragile X children themselves, far more than most people I know in real life.
  • I've learned what the acronyms FX, IEP, IFSP, EI, and OT (amongst others) mean, and use them easily in everyday conversations.
  • I also have learned new longer words, and use them just as fluently: hypotonia, mylenation and nystagmus come to mind off the top of my head.
  • I've learned that although we have a playroom full of toys, nothing will entertain my son as easily as a squirt bottle over the kitchen sink.
  • I've learned that the pain I feel when I watch my son struggle to do something other children his age do easily, will not overshadow the joy I feel when he does accomplish it. In fact, I will be that much more elated.
  • I've learned that when he splits his head open from a bad fall in the backyard, or runs a high fever in the middle of the night, I will know instinctively what to do. If I have to consult Dr. Google, or my Mom, it's probably not that serious.
  • I've learned that the sound of his laughter will instantly put me in a better mood.
  • I've learned that my son knows what it means to forgive, better than anyone I know. On a bad day, where I snap at him for no other reason than he's being a typical toddler, a hug and an offer to play Lego's will make him instantly smile and forget about it.
  • I've learned that I will do whatever it takes--singing at the top of my lungs, reaching back and poking him, turning up the volume on the radio to a crazy volume--to stop him from falling asleep in the car right before we get home for nap time.
  • I've learned that I appreciate and respect my parents for the sacrifices they made, the fun memories they provided, and the lessons they taught me, in a completely different way.
  • I've learned that watching my infant be put under anesthesia can be both hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.
  • I've learned that some days, having a graham cracker for breakfast, is not the end of the world.
  • I've learned that I've become less judgemental of other parents out in public--maybe the 5 year old throwing a tantrum in the store has SPD and is on sensory overload
  • On the other hand, I've become more judgemental of other parents out in public--God help you if I see you berate or slap your child.
  • I've learned I'm not the perfect parent I thought I'd be when I was pregnant, and my son loves me unconditionally, despite that.
  • I've learned that the joy of watching my son look at Christmas lights, or see Santa, will teach me about the magic of Christmas in a way I never understood before.
  • I've learned that a walk to mailbox with my son after nap can be the best part of both our days.
  • I've learned what the phrases "he's all boy" and "it takes a village" truly mean.
  • I've learned that the best carseats are the ugliest ones.
  • I've learned that letting my toddler watch TV is not the horrible parenting fail I imagined it to be--instead it is sometimes a much needed break for both of us, and heck--maybe even a little educational.
  • I've learned it's true, that motherhood is the hardest, yet most rewarding job you will ever have. The hard times are hard. But the good times are amazing.
Happy third birthday, Gabriel! I can't wait to see what I learn in the next three years.

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