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You bring home a baby and he or she is such a surprise. Do you remember the first time you held or beheld her? The first time she smiled at you? The first time you beamed with pride?
Do you remember your firsts? I know that for many of us, raising kids with special needs means we’ve forgotten the good moments because there is so much to worry about.
But this blog is about reclaiming and remembering the joy of parenting.
And this post is about the gratitude and joy I felt when I held each of my babies.
Amelia was born at 1:34 AM on a Sunday morning and I’ll never forget the first time I saw her. The OB screamed at me to “LOOK DOWN!” and between my legs, I saw this small, pale, perfectly formed baby roll out. My sister was on hand, along with my husband, but she was the one who saw me cry and remembered to hand me a tissue as soon I was able to take one.
When I held my new baby during my first few moments of motherhood, I remember what I saw: graduation and wedding, careers and sunny days, love and laughter. After all the difficult months of my high risk pregnancy and the agony of labor, my sweet little Amelia was finally here! She was everything to me and when I got her home, I never wanted to let her go. I had 2 years and 9 months to lay our foundation for bear squeezes, endless hugging and impromptu kisses from Amelia! She is such an affectionate child that I never know WHAT she will do or say that shows her heart of compassion and care. I keep the Kleenex on hand for those moments.
Nearly 3 years later, Zoe arrived. And while they did think she was a little jaundiced and put her under the light, they handed her to me very quickly and moved out of the room. I was in heaven. I got to hold her until my arm actually hurt! In that hour, my tears and smiles went back and forth as I took in every inch of her, and I was grateful for being able to grab the Kleenex when Chris came to relieve me. We too formed an unbreakable bond that day and now, at age 10, she begs me to come in her room every night to play games that make us both giggle.
The path hasn’t been easy, but I never know when she’ll say a new phrase – or just jam out an “I love you.” Her words, rare as they are, are always a cause for celebration in my heart and to this day, bring tears,. Just last week we said goodbye as she left for the school bus this week, and she stopped, turned and very clearly said, “Good bye!” with a cheerful wave. Progress like that made me step back into the house so she couldn’t see I that was crying with tears of joy. Chris came in and gave me a Kleenex and a hug. We are so proud of her!
Having kids is never the experience you expect or envision it to be. But those same dreams that I cried over in the delivery room, holding each of my girls in my arms, have not changed. I will see graduations and weddings, careers and sunny days, and there have been and will be many, many days of love and laughter with my girls. At 10 and 12, they are strong and fearless, loving and compassionate, forces to be reckoned with.
And I know God blessed Chris and I with these children, and that they were made for a purpose. This is what I pray when I think of my girls:
For You created their inmost being; You knit them together in my womb. I praise You because they are fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Slightly altered version of Psalm 139:13-14)
Maybe we’ve taken the road less traveled to happiness and joy but it is one I firmly on as a mom…even if I need a pile of Kleenex by my side for all my tears of joy. To help get through those moments, I stop off at Walgreens to stock up on a variety of Kleenex products that come in so many shapes, sizes and colors. Right now, you get can $0.75 off Kleenex Tissues (any variety, any size) at Ibotta.
Now it’s your turn: which of those moments made you reach for the Kleenex as you shed tears of joy? The first time your speechless child sang a song? Your baby’s first laugh or hand clap? The clean bill of health after a health scare? Or maybe your child got off a special diet, because she was healed of some kind of allergy or symptom? Check out Kleenex Cares for more great stories on happy tears from other families.
I’d love to hear your stories of hope and inspirations in the comments…and no worries! I’ve got a box right on my desk for my waterworks…
This beautiful book can help you in your spiritual gratitude walk: (Amazon affiliate links below)
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You AreGood Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude: Gratitude JournalGratitude: A JournalThe One-Minute Gratitude Journal
And of course, I have put a gratitude page in my Autism Planning Workbook. Learn more here.