I don’t know if it’s more difficult for me to accept that you’re four years old or that I’ve been a mother for that long.
Zachary, you made me a mother. It’s the most amazing title I will ever own. I am forever grateful to you and to this beautiful, crazy, amazing world for bringing you into my heart.
It’s not the motherhood I imagined.
Because it’s better.
You bring love and joy to all who meet you. Tough little bullies melt when you become their friend. Boys who were just getting yelled at by your teacher then bear hug you in the hallway just minutes later, calling you Zacky. They are so excited when you enter the classroom. I know very, very few people who actually bring light to those around them the way you do already. Imagine when you’ve mastered speech and communication? We will all be incredibly blessed to feel your love in other ways.
I will never in all of my life forget how my heart felt the first time I saw you. An operating room is not the typical place to meet the love of your life, but there you were, those dark grey eyes meeting mine as a nurse held you. You were big and quiet and you spoke to me with those eyes.
Just a couple of days later, the twinkle in your eyes turned out to be a sign of Down Syndrome. I sat at the edge of my hospital bed that night and stared at you, brushing the top of my hand along your forehead and hair and trying to wrap my brain around the news. And then, without warning, your eyes just opened up and twinkled up at me with a half-smile. We would be OK, we would be OK, we would be OK.
And that was that.
You are not Down Syndrome. You are not special needs. You are not even a “special” child… you have tantrums, you are strong-willed, you sometimes don’t listen and you sometimes push your sister. You are an almost-four-year-old. My almost-four-year-old.
In recent weeks, your speech is taking off. We’re hearing two and even three-word sentences here and there; you’re responding to questions and communicating needs and wants. I don’t know how to describe what that means to us.
You love the waves on a beach. It’s about the only time I see you truly fearless and completely uninhibited. You hold an adult’s hands above your head and leap in the air with a shriek with each crashing wave.
You’re so loved at school. In a couple of weeks, we have to say goodbye to this school and these friends and part of me aches. These teachers and your classmates have embraced you so beautifully and adore you so much. Their love and your growing knowledge and confidence have cemented the fact that yes, you can achieve ANYTHING and everything.
I have been incredibly touched by the friends who have come forward in the wake of our announcing our relocation. The one thing they all keep telling me? How sad they are that their children will not have a chance to grow up so close to you and with you; to have a chance to learn about the love you bring into this world and the lessons you can teach kids and parents alike. I can’t wait until you understand what a huge and beautiful thing that is; what a light you are in this world.
When we were visiting relatives in Asbury last month, you kept running to a nude framed sketch in the one room and yelling, “FALL DOWN!” We were all in hysterics. You were so concerned about this woman laying down on the wall.
Due to your little sister’s screaming at bedtime, you’ve gotten the “Big Boy Bed” in the Playroom at bedtime. The other night, I laid next to you and you said, “Sing!”
Sunshine?, I asked.
“Sunshine,” you smiled.
So we sang our song, “You are my sunshine.” You grin from side-to-side at that last “a-waaaaaaaaay.”
“Star?” you asked.
Twinkle?, I asked. You nodded.
So we sang Twinkle, twinkle little star.
And you put your arm under my head and patted my hair.
When we were done singing, you simply told me “Night-Night” and gave me a sloppy kiss on the lips.
Some days, I look at you with fear and ‘what if’s in my heart. But those days are few and far between now and I’m tougher and better at pushing scary thoughts (heart problems and low life expectancy and college and marriage and speech and mainstream school, oh my!) far, far away.
Most days, I look at you with pride. A pride that swells so much it all but suffocates me via love. I never knew these feelings existed. And I certainly had no idea that a 40-pound, four-year-old Little Man would be the one to bring those feelings into my life.
I will fight for you every day of my life with every bit of knowledge and power I can muster.
Z-Man, I love you. I love you as much for who you are and what you do as I do for what you make me and how you change me for the better.
I love you, I love you, I love you.