Oh, how time heals and eases our pain! When we are in the midst of a challenging situation, we cannot imagine this to be true, as our situation is oh, so difficult. But then, years later, that trying time may be but a distant memory in our scrapbook of life.
How do I know this? Because I’ve lived it.
I was reminded this past weekend while talking with another mom of special needs children of a specific event which brought back memories of very challenging times—very challenging times.
And in my remembering, I realized I had not thought of this in a very long time…
Years ago when my oldest son was just a toddler, things were very overwhelming and the outlook not very promising. He had a number of diagnoses with lots of letters attached to them, numerous therapies every day of the week, and a mom who was terribly sleep-deprived and overwhelmed.
"This was not what I had envisioned when I prayed for a child," I remembered myself saying.
On this particular day, I was sitting with his speech therapist on the floor of my then-two-year-old son’s room, overwhelmed and sobbing under the weight of this responsibility. All the while pushing my son back and forth, back and forth, back and forth in his net swing.
I often sat on the floor of my son’s room pushing him back and forth in his net swing as it was the only place and time he would sleep.
If I stopped pushing, he stopped sleeping. Immediately.
So I pushed and pushed and pushed. As long as I was willing to push the swing, my son would get some much-needed sleep and I would spend some much-needed time quietly praying as I switched arms frequently to keep that swing moving.
On this particular day, I was struggling. Struggling to keep myself together. Struggling with the daily routine. Struggling with the enormity of the responsibility that had been given to me.
So there I sat, weeping uncontrollably.
And I said to the therapist, “I’m not sure how much longer I can do this. He’s two years old and he’s not doing any better despite all the intervention. I don’t know if I can do this.”
As she sat there quietly, allowing me the space to talk and cry, her reply was simple. “It won’t always be like this,” she said.
“Really?” I responded incredulously, while looking for a glimmer of hope to hold on to.
She said, “One day he’ll be three.”
Of course he’ll be three one day, I thought! And just how is that helpful?! I was a bit exasperated, to say the least. I did not find her words of wisdom very wise at all!
But you know something? She was right.
Not that three was so much better than two. But it was different. And I realized I needed a different perspective to view my different circumstances with.
I realized it may not get “better” but it could sure be “different” and that “different” might just be okay.
And each day, as we went through the necessary routines, therapies and interventions, I couldn’t always see things changing or improving.
As time went on, though, I began to see things that hadn’t been there before. A slight improvement, a spoken word, a few more minutes of sleep until one day, we weren’t “there” anymore at all.
We were “here.”
And “here” was different.
Some things were better and some things were not, but it was not the very same place we had been in. We were in a different place.
And, as I recounted this story to my friend, I realized that we had made it through age two. And three. And four. And many other years and challenges to today. Those days were but a distant memory.
My son is in high school this year. Some parts of it have been very trying, others quite enjoyable.
He is not the same boy who rocked back and forth in a swing to sleep and I am not the same mom who rocked him all those hours and days.
We are different.