I smiled when I came home last night at the sight of my 4-year-old, sleeping soundly with a slight snore going on. (Why is it that 4-year-olds snoring is cute whilst a 40-year-old snoring makes us want to haul off and kick a wall? Or is this just me? Oops!) He had his Spiderman sunglasses on, something he has recently taken to wearing to bed. We aren’t sure why as this is the one kid that actually will put HIMSELF to bed. Perhaps it’s of comfort to him or a phase but we know that sometimes kids just do these things!
Liam was our “easier baby”…if I had him as my first, there may be a slew of kids running around our house right now instead of just 2. I was prepared for my first to arrive as much as a new mom could be and expected the typical baby activities and lack of sleep for myself and no longer putting my needs first. What I was not prepared for was the colic up through age 6 months and not sleeping (uninterrupted) more than 2 hours in a row until December 1st when he was 6 months old and finally slept 6 hours straight. Hallelujah! I recall dancing in the hallway (VERY quietly) with my husband Juan and sharing that perhaps, we may be at a turning point. I honestly felt downright crazy by that point. I was back at work full-time, working 60 hours a week and commuting an hour each way. A blur. Heck, I didn’t recall driving my actual commute at times!!
Many(even fellow moms) told me he is “just being a baby” and so I didn’t think it was abnormal. To complain would be accepting defeat that I wasn’t cut out to be a mom. To complain was often met with the well-intended, “yes, me too” but now it’s “not me” instead of an embracing word or two of encouragement. My pregnancy wasn’t normal so this part well, it HAD to be normal, right? But it wasn’t. Interrupted sleep? Yes. The routine of sleep, feed, change the diaper? Yes. Sure enough, I soon had friends experience my new baby who could not be put down for a second, screaming and crying at any motion other than a car ride or resting on my husband’s shoulder. But still, these types of newborns come into the world and I am not the only one. Of course, I certainly know more now than I did back then.
That baby is now 8 years old, still loves the comfort of being right next to someone versus being alone and it makes me chuckle to look back and realize how I can associate his personality now, to his personality as a baby. He’s adventurous like his mom, loves all things sports related just like his dad and will devour a book just like both his parents. He loves to travel, sweet and sensitive to others feelings and a straight-A student(that doesn’t come from me!) He loves his brother, watches out for him and counts the minutes until he hops off the bus. I have secretly videotaped the two of them together to playback someday at their weddings. The scene is Liam watching over his big brother Caellum’s shoulder while they pour over a book….I couldn’t imagine one without the other.
From the early days following Liam’s birth, it was clear Caellum loved his brother and couldn’t wait to show him the ropes. Of course, at first, there was only so much that Liam might understand. But it’s Caellum that has become so much a part of helping his brother deal with his frustrations. It’s like life reciprocated itself.
When I look at my 4-year-old, I see the ease of his early years and how he is deciding to handle the world now. When Liam turned 3, I noticed something was not quite right. Intuitively, I thought perhaps I was comparing my children unfairly but my gut was telling me otherwise. He seemed to be having tantrums more than perhaps a typical 3-year old would have and, more extreme. But he was still so brilliant, well spoken, and loving all at the same time. I dreaded preschool dropoff because if something upset him, we may not have been able to make the transition. I equally dreaded pickup, wondering if it had been a good day or a bad one and how many times he might have been walked out of the classroom to take his deep breaths. Would I show up to the playground to see Liam singing along with the others at the end of the day or would he be off in his own world? We all know too well, how kids can be bullied and I was already anxiety-ridden that his uniqueness would cause him to be ostracized. But then I realized. I realized it was Liam who was magical.
It is now interesting, after having gone through this process with my son to see other children even older than he is, struggling and I can see how these struggles now, may increase. I am thankful that his teacher had the professionalism and courage to talk to me about what ended up being one of the best conversations I could have had, for my son.
Thankfully, with the help of an amazing preschool teacher who wasn’t afraid to ask me if maybe, just maybe Liam needed a little extra help, we sought it out. As a parent who has been through it, we have two choices. We can either get angry at professionals or turn a blind eye or seek out help and advocate for our children. It’s my duty as his mom to reach down and enclose him with all my love and support, no matter how hard it is to hear as a mom. It is not defeat. It is the beauty of finding out so early on in life how awesome your kids potential is and begin to guide them towards how to live and use their skills to reach their highest potential.
Was it hard to hear that he needed some extra help? Are the stares that I feel when I have to pull him aside and the wandering eyes of others burning in my back hard to shove off? When people don’t know what to say because they just don’t know? The comments that he seems to be handful or questions about why he is “overreacting” hard? Sure. But you don’t know, truly know, how it can become a blessing to start to understand and have insight into how your child’s brain works at such a young age. My son’s disabilities haven’t become a burden or a roadblock but rather a journey to find out exactly how he is going to be one super magical human being.