One of the hardest parts of being Elijah's mom (or dad) is this: Not knowing what is going on in his head - especially when he's sad and we don't know why. I wrote the following a couple of weeks ago, but never finished it. I thought I'd share it now as it still applies to me and I thought maybe another mom (or dad) might relate.
We're driving home from school and Elijah starts sobbing. I have no idea why. I have no way to get the information from him, no way to crawl inside of his brain to scoop out the information that I want to know - that I so desperately need to know. And even worse is the knowledge of this simple fact: In spite of years of therapy, Elijah's communication skills are still quite limited and he has no way to let me know what he's thinking.
Elijah sobs and we get home and he cries some more. I bring the boys inside and I help Elijah get off his boots and hat and mittens. I help Oliver too. Our winter clothes sit laying in piles as I try to contain my two boys who both need me so much. Elijah is still crying and pulling at my hand while Oliver repeats his "mom-mom" refrain while pulling on my leg.
All I want to do is take off my stupid boots.
I turn on Elijah's music and that satisfies him some, but he's still not happy and I don't know why. I'm not happy either.
It's not long before I'm sobbing too; the heartbreak is just too much. I can't handle his sadness, his tears. The possible reasons for his unhappiness scroll through my mind like rolling credits...did something bad happen at school? Does he hate coming home? Does he want a different song? Is his brother bothering him? Is he not feeling well? Does he want to watch TV? The pressure weighs down on me, squeezing my heart in a vise. I love him so much it hurts.
The scene: This morning at a Caribou Coffee drive-thru...
As I pulled up to the window, the cashier - an older grandfatherly gentleman - started to make small-talk.
"How are you enjoying this spring weather?" he said, joking about the temps in the teens.
We talked bout how it feels warm today, compared to the negatives we have been experiencing. We laughed about how it's all relative. I complained about having to bundle up my two boys in the cold.
"Oh, how old are they?" he asked.
"I have a six-year-old and a one and a half year old," I told him and he went to retrieve my coffee.
"Oh, so you did it like I did," he said, handing me my warm cup. "My kids are about five years apart."
And then he added, "Less squabbling that way."
And I smiled and nodded and said, "yep" and drove away.
Except, I have no idea what he's talking about. Yes, my kids are almost five years apart, but they aren't really five years apart. They're apart in years, but they're close in development. They're twins and they're a million years apart at the same time. It's complicated.
Yes, Elijah is the big brother, but in some ways he's the little brother. There are things that Oliver started to do at a few months old that Elijah still can't do. And yet, Elijah IS the big brother in every sense of the word - bigger in size and in maturity. He gets annoyed at his little brother as any big brother does.
There isn't less squabbling. There is a lot of pushing and hitting - mostly from Elijah to his little brother. Much of my time with our boys is spent trying to keep them safe from each other. There is a lot of squabbling.
So, sometimes I feel like an impostor. It isn't written on my forehead that I have a child with special needs. People don't automatically know that my parenting life is a little different. My cashier didn't know that I didn't necessarily want to wait five years before having our second child. And, really, it doesn't matter. But, sometimes in situations like a drive-thru where I don't have the time or the energy to explain my situation, I can feel a little bit like an impostor.
I'm not an impostor, though. I'm just me. A wife to Andy and a mom to two incredible boys.
This is a story of overcoming the odds, putting trust in God, and the miracle of prayer. Our son, Elijah, was born in August of 2007. As a result of the oxygen deprivation that occured during his birth he spent his first three (agonizing) weeks in the hospital. When he was seven days old, we were told that Elijah had "severe brain damage" on both sides of his brain. At that moment we entered Elijahland and we've been here ever since. We're learning to live with the diagnoses Elijah has started to accumulate, but mostly we're grateful that God chose us to be his parents. It is truly a privilege to live in Elijahland with our handsome boy. Thanks for visiting.