I need to preface this by saying last night was yet another disaster of a night for Little Man, and thus, us. I gave up soda (again), but I’m seriously contemplating a trip to the convenience store down the street for a Super Big Gulp caffeine jolt. A food battle led to a meltdown which led to anxiety, tears, and a healthy dose of rage, which led to a lack of sleep for all three of us. It wasn’t pretty.
When we got married and starting trying to create our family, I, like pretty much everyone, had a picture in my head what that family would look like. In none of those mental pictures were included hospital bedrest stays, a NICU, developmental delays, gaining more medical knowledge than I thought I’d eve need, autism diagnosis, therapies, specialists, medications, IEP meetings, and so on. Those thoughts never entered my head. It never occurred to me my children would ever be anything but perfect, mentally, physically, emotionally, developmentally. But here we are, with a preemie, a princess, and a work in progress.
“How do you manage?” “How do you get through each day?” “You’re so strong.” “I could never do what you do.” These are common phrases in my life now, and have been since Big Man was born so prematurely. If I’d known this was going to be our path, would I have still taken it? If I’d known, would our lives have somehow been different? Maybe that sounds selfish, or even disrespectful to my children – as if I didn’t love them with my whole being. If you’d known earlier in your life disaster was heading your way, would you avoid it? Or would you face it, knowing in the fire, you would be tempered, and see the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen?
This is hard. It’s incredibly messy. It’s heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, exhausting, stressful. It’s painful. It’s also joyous to the extreme. I look upon all three with pride and wonder. They are from me. They are of me, quirks and all. I can’t change what is. I wouldn’t. There’s no need to fix them, for they are not broken. They took the me that was and made me infinitely better, stronger, weaker, more. I don’t know what choice that younger me would have made, had she known what was coming. I’m glad she didn’t get a glimpse into the future, because all this would have been missed….three beautiful babies, and a woman who is better for the path she’s been given.