Why I Love Being A Parent

Before you have children, you build up this little ideal world in which you and your child will have many magical moments. Moments of frolicking in the sun and flying a kite, sharing an ice cream cone on a warm summer day, or cuddling under a blanket reading Dr. Seuss. And these imagined moments do come to fruition.

And thanks to Pinterest you can pin thousands of ways to create flawless memories with your children. And I’m not gonna lie, I pin many such items. I pin far more ideas, crafts, and activities than we will ever be able to do, but I like having a stockpile of ideas.

But some of the funniest moments are the ones you never imagine. The following are just a few from my three-year old son.

  • Upon receiving his new book basket with the choo-choo train liner, he looks at me with a bewildered expression and says, “It’s wrong. There’s no coal car.”

He is correct. There is a steam engine on the liner but no coal car. Thanks for pointing out that buddy. Never in a million years would I have noticed. And apparently, the three-year olds working in the sweatshop didn’t either.

  • About once a week he will say, “I want to go to Starbucks.”

Yes, he even knows how to order: either a kids chocolate milk or kids hot chocolate.  Now that Starbucks has started writing your name on the outside of the cup, he has decided to write his name on the side of my reusable white coffee mug. Seriously, we only go about once a week. And while some may view this as a bit sad, I view it as our weekly coffee date. And who doesn’t like a good coffee date?

  • Potty training, without a doubt, brings out the most hilarious sayings….or expressions. Sighs of relief followed by him saying, “That was a big one.”

This is followed by me saying, “No honey, I don’t need to see it. But thank you.”

  • Along with potty training comes using public restrooms and innocent, yet truthful statements, “Somebody had a stinky poopy.”

I really hope that somebody left by the time this was said.

Then there are those tender moments that are so endearing you couldn’t have imagined them.

  • After not seeing my son for several hours I gave him a hug and told him I missed him. He said, “It’s OK. Mommy’s in my heart.”
  • One day I was so sick I could barely get off the couch, and he covered me with his blanket and gave me his special stuffed animal to help me feel better.
  • When he saw I had an “owie” on my hand and he kissed it to make it heal quicker.
  • When asked what his favorite thing in his house is, he states it’s his brother.

When I let life happen and stop trying to create the perfect magical moment, that’s when the splendor of being  a parent is revealed.

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Opening My Eyes

March 6 is Spread the Word to End the Word Day (www.r-word.org).

A little over a year ago I didn’t know about the significance of March 6. I made poor word choices without thinking about why I chose a certain word or how my words affected others. I would say, way more often than I would like to admit, “That’s so retarded.”  I even used the short bus line a few times.

I never meant any harm. It was just a word or phrase that many people used. After all, in high school I befriended a boy with Down syndrome, Mark, who rode the bus with the rest of us who had to take a bus to school. I was very shy in high school, but to this day I recall the time Shawn (a bully) started to mock Mark. He was making fun of Mark’s math class. I was sitting next to Mark and tried to ignore Shawn. But I couldn’t take it. I asked Shawn what math class he was in (knowing he was in a math class several levels below his current grade level). (OK, so I didn’t take the high road with that one.) I remember telling Shawn he would never be a quarter of the person Mark is. I continued to sit with Mark on the bus for the remainder of the year, truly enjoying his company. (And Shawn stopped picking on Mark.)

Yet, all those times I said “That’s so retarded” I never put the connection together that what I was saying would’ve hurt Mark had he ever heard me. I never would’ve wanted to hurt him. I never thought about how it would’ve hurt Mark’s parents to hear me make a short bus remark, especially since they must have been so proud that he was riding the bus with his “typically developing” peers. I never realized I was perpetuating a negative stereotype that people with intellectual disabilities are less than those without a disability.

I never thought.

But all that changed August 28, 2011. That’s when I was given a deeper gift of compassion and grace wrapped in 19 inches, 6 pounds 4.9 ounces. And my compassion and need to advocate grows with each amazing smile he gives.

I’m sorry it took me so long to have my eyes opened, but I’m glad almond-shaped blue eyes opened them for me.