It’s Sunday morning. As I sit at my end of the kitchen table with my coffee and my laptop watching Mikey put together a fish tank stand my mind is all over the place so it’s time to do what (I think) I do best; get my thoughts together in print.
Today is a milestone. Remember your Sweet 16? The excitement? The fun? The thought of knowing you’re moving closer and closer to adulthood? Yeah, I remember that like it was yesterday. Now I am living it again, through the eyes of our eldest. It’s quite a feeling. How is it that all of a sudden Mike and I are old enough to have a 16 year-old son? Where has the time gone? Wasn’t he just a baby? Weren’t we just filled with joy because he had learned how to roll over? Didn’t he just say his first word? He just took his first step, didn’t he? We just sent him off to preschool, didn’t we? Now he’s in school. He just learned how to ride his bike. He’s starting junior high? His first dance? STOP!!!!
It’s a whirlwind. Time is going by at warp speed. 16 years is a lifetime to some and the blink of an eye for others. An Angel’s Island has continually focused on Matthew and our journey with him. I’ve talked about his great accomplishments as well as his struggles and challenges. There hasn’t been much I haven’t shared over the years.
I truly believe Matthew was sent to us for a reason. We had much to learn from him. Through all the good and through all the bad we have learned as many lessons from him as we have taught, perhaps more so. So what exactly have I learned from him?
I have learned unconditional love.
I have learned that all of my emotions are magnified to the Nth degree. My heart swells with love, pride, happiness, excitement, hurt, anger, and sorrow more than I ever thought imaginable. Sometimes a combination of many of these emotions at the same time.
I have learned acceptance.
I have learned that the hopes and dreams we all have for our children may or may not play out the way we anticipate. Our hopes and dreams may alter along the way to become bigger and better and much more significant than the original. And that’s ok. I have learned that it’s best to take our cues from those living to fulfil our hopes and dreams and appreciate that life may steer them on a different course. I have learned to support and encourage the hopes and dreams of my children, no matter how wayward they seem from my own.
I have learned that the little things are indeed the most significant. It’s the little things that we marvelled at when life seemed so much simpler. The sunshine, the clouds, the grass getting green again each spring, a spider’s web, the beauty of a dandelion, but there’s more. I have learned to acknowledge that man walking the street looking through the garbage for food. I have learned to make sure we have extra cat treats in the house for the strays that wander down our way from the restaurant up the road. I have learned that by destroying nature for commercial gain many animals are uprooted from their natural habitats, and that’s so not cool. I have learned that sometimes yes, something can just be that simple. I have learned that life is only as grey as we make it, because in the big scheme of things it really is pretty black and white. So black and white sometimes, in fact, it can be blinding. We just aren’t looking in the right ways.
I have learned strength. Strength I never knew I had. And it joined together with determination, perseverance, patience, and persistence to help me become a Mom that will find herself needing that strength and courage on more than one occasion over the years.
I have learned that can’t and won’t have very different meanings.
I have learned that what is right and what is reality are sometimes very opposing concepts.
I have learned that what I think I see on the outside may very well be an illusion to what’s on the inside. I have learned to never assume nor to ever expect.
I have learned about the world of Learning Disabilities. I have learned about equality, I have learned about struggles and I have learned about challenges. I have learned that many of the simple tasks I take for granted every day can be monumental accomplishments for others. I have learned that the ability to read a book is a gift, the concept of telling time should never be taken for granted, the understanding of money and it’s principles is vital in our world. I have learned that these 3 tasks can be as difficult for someone with a learning disability as it would be for a mechanic to perform brain surgery. I have learned to not give up. I have learned that when you stop expecting is when you will see. I have learned that our timetable for when tasks should be completed is nothing more than an ideal.
I really could go on and on but I think I have painted a pretty vibrant picture. It’s easy to see that I have learned all of this through and because of Matthew. I have often referred to him as my Hero and nothing could be more true.
Who knew 16 years ago what lied ahead? Certainly not the 26 year old “know-it-all” who just had a baby, that’s for sure. And you know what? I’m glad I didn’t and I’m so glad I thought I knew it all. What an eye-opening ride this has been.
Would I change anything? No, I really don’t think I would. Maybe some of the struggles Matt has faced. Maybe. Everything that has happened over the past 16 years has brought us to where we are now and had helped shaped us all into the people we have become. You know what? I kind of like us; the people we have become. I don’t like some of the hills and valleys we have had to climb over and through to get here, but c’est la vie. That’s life. No one said it was going to be easy. Besides, easy is boring.
On this October 7, 2012 my thoughts are that of pride and love. Our boy is growing into a fine young man who has captivated the hearts of many. Matthew has made many people stop, think and learn. What a feat that must be.
With every breath you take, Matthew, you show me what strength and determination really is. You teach me every minute of every day. You are my sunshine.
Happy 16th Birthday ~ now where is that Driver’s Handbook?
Until next time…