12 Nov Today I was a great mom.
I often don’t feel that way. I feel badly for my busy schedule or my short temper, for not wanting to hear the backstory of every Monster High doll or inspect each individual line my son draws on the card he’s making. I wish I was one of Those Moms- the ones who seem to effortlessly enjoy time with their children and never once wonder what’s new on Twitter or if they could sneak a book under the table and get away with it.
It was my son’s tenth birthday today, and the kids were off school and sleeping in. I, however, woke from heartbreaking dreams of lost loved ones at 6:30AM. Instead of going back to sleep I decided to get up before the kids and make memories that mattered.
I snuck downstairs and found dandelion-yellow streamers and Lightning McQueen balloons, and began filling the livingroom with the streamers and winding them around the, ah, fireman’s pole in the middle like it was a maypole. Note: I did not say my parenting was going to win any awards. Ben woke up about halfway through and blew up the balloons for me, and I hung them in bunches, still working mostly in darkness.
At about 8 we went to Jamie’s room and woke him singing, the way my mom used to wake me on my birthday. He was smiling before he opened his eyes. He took his morning meds and I slipped out of the room. When Ben took him his laundry so he could choose his favourite t-shirt for the day (Lego Star-Wars, in case you were wondering) I heard his wide-eyed exclamation of “OH MY WORD” as he caught a glimpse of the decorations. Mission: Accomplished.
For breakfast I made pancakes with raspberries and chocolate chips, which Ben shamelessly turned into some sort of heathen breakfast sundae with ice cream, caramel sauce and Nutella. We navigated the inevitable overexcited meltdowns of special needs children with grace and aplomb. Then each of us took a kid and we played video games with them, where normally we would sneak off to our own computers while the two youngest fought over the controllers.
It turns out that I am extraordinarily bad at video games.
Then I sent some texts and we went swimming with Sir J’s bio siblings and their amazing family. And it was so much fun- all the kids running in different directions but also playing so well together, despite the incredible range of needs and abilities. My teen was her best self, caring and fun and helpful and genuinely engaged with the other kids even as she was helping us keep it all together. I am so incredibly proud of that girl.
After swimming we tempted fate by taking the whole lot to Pete’s Drive-In and ordering our weight in milkshakes, onion rings and burgers. And you know what? They handled it. Okay, they were getting a bit squirrelly by the end, but overall it was the kind of success I didn’t ever really think we’d be able to have. We could have passed for normal. Crazy.
Then we went home, and on the way my middle child asked hard questions about boys and puberty and we had a wonderful, open conversation and I had all the answers and actually felt hopeful about the future.
The night ended with the kids playing with the bitchin’ cool new remote control car Sir J’s sibs gave him and then working on his new puzzle. The kids went to bed nicely, nobody melted, and everyone felt loved.
But- I have only a single picture, taken of Sir J and those dandelion streamers, to show for it all. Nothing that shows the love, the togetherness, the incredible feeling of family. So I wrote this. Because it is so easy to remember our failures and so hard to remember our successes, and because sometimes being a great parent means not getting the shot.
Happy birthday, Sir J.