I was planning to save this post for the week of Mother's Day, but recent events have caused me to rethink that plan, and change the post a bit.
It's always nice to have others tell you that you're a good mother. My own mother tells me all the time - though she may be a little biased. Doctors tell me when we sit through constant and endless appointments. Therapists tell me when we show up for appointments week after week, year after year - even if I'm sick, even if Lydia is sick, sometimes even if Ian is sick. Even if we barley slept the night before, even if it's snowing, we show up.
If I'm being honest, these things usually do make me feel like a good mother - "Well, I didn't get Ian to eat any fruit or vegetables today, and he smacked his sister in the face for thinking about looking at his iPad, but I drove through a snow storm on three hours of sleep to get him to his therapy appointment, so at least I've got that going for me." Being super-on-top of everything concerning Ian makes me feel a little bit better about the things I can't control - like his low weight or some of his behaviors. It makes me feel like at least I'm doing something.
Last week, I watched in shock and disbelief as another special needs mom blogger that I follow unexpectedly lost her son, Gavin. They were in the midst of their daily life - at an appointment for Gavin - and he had a seizure, followed by cardiac arrest. He went into cardiac arrest twice more while in the hospital, and by Friday the doctors declared him brain dead. In the midst of all this, his mom Kate was writing eloquent and heartbreaking updates on her blog and thanking everyone for their thoughts and prayers. She posted tons of pictures of Gavin's last days in the hospital, and wrote about how happy she and her husband were that some of Gavin's organs would be going on to save lives. She made requests that we all do something kind for someone else in honor of Gavin, and that donations be made to their hospital's Child Life department in lieu of flowers. I was - and still am - in awe of her strength.
I can't read her posts or look at the pictures of Gavin without crying, and I don't even know them personally. Their story hits home on many levels for me, and I know I couldn't be that strong if I were in her shoes.
I've hugged both my kids closer - but especially Ian - this last week. I've welled up and had to push away thoughts of him in that hospital bed. I got scared when I thought he might have a fever when he woke up crying during the night this week. I felt guilty when I got exasperated with him when he wouldn't stop saying "I want iPad" over and over and over after I'd already told him no.
Most of all, I've reflected on how important it is to take time and appreciate my family. It's easy to get busy and overwhelmed with all of the scheduling and appointments - some days the kids go to bed and I don't even feel like I spent any time with them, even though I was with them all day. There's no way to know when our last day together might be, so it really is important to make every single one count.
Yesterday after school, we came home and had nothing important to do until dinner time. I held Ian in my arms and said a line from Adventure Time that he really likes: "How 'bout I swaddle you up like a sweet baby!" in a funny voice. He'd laugh and yell "No!" but then sign "more" for me to do it again. Lydia caught on to our fun and came over, saying "Sweet baby too!", and I snuggled them both on my lap. I felt like a good mother.
Next time we go to the store we will purchase toys and comfort items to send to the Child Life department in celebration of Gavin - a true superhero.