The year was 2003.
My daughter had just turned 1, and I was in the midst of trying to save an exhausting and abusive marriage.
I’d been feeling excessively drained and cranky, so I scheduled an appointment with my OBGYN to discuss post-partum depression.
While I was there, they did a routine pregnancy test.
I felt as though I’d been hit in the head with a baseball bat.
I must be the most fertile woman on the friggin planet.
I’d been alienated from my then-husband for months.
But he begged me to forgive him. So one night of jazz, dinner, candles and apologies…
yields a positive pregnancy test?
Not exactly the news I was looking for.
My girlfriends and coworkers were thrilled.
I wanted to scream.
I was having a hard enough time with a philandering and lying husband… and a one-year old daughter…I certainly didn’t want to bring another child into the world.
And cried some more.
I felt at the time that God was punishing me for the sins of my past.
Well, what I eventually learned is that I wasn’t suffering punishment.
I was meant to be changed.
I was selfish.
Webster defines selfishness as being concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself. Seeking or concentrating on ones own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.
I can honestly tell you it had been a real struggle being a mother for the first time.
I wanted my baby girl so much. I was beyond ecstatic when I found out she was going to be entering the world.
But the reality of parenting her and forgetting myself was more than I was prepared to bear.
I loved her so much, but she constantly needed attention.
To be held.
And doted on.
And I wasn’t ready for the 24 hour a day commitment.
Her grandmother certainly was.
My mother is the most selfless woman I know.
But I was the antithesis of that.
So to bring a second child into the word was inconceivable to me.
I shared my true apprehensions with some acquaintances.
Not friends, because that advice would have been a little too real.com.
Several months into my pregnancy, some testing revealed that I may be carrying a child with spina bifida.
I remember a few gals told me that if I needed someone to take me to get an abortion, they would do so.
I went to the testing alone.
I did everything alone.
I distinctly remember saying to the geneticist that if there was ever a family who could love and care for a child with special-needs, it was mine.
The testing was negative.
But I knew in my heart that God was preparing me for something.
I just had no idea what it was.
My son was diagnosed with autism when he was 2.
And he has changed me.
Just being his mother has taught me the meaning of dying to self, and putting another person’s needs before my own… every single day of my life.
It hasn’t been picture-perfect.
And I certainly don’t mean to paint it that way.
There have been so many moments of brokenness and complete poverty and dependency that I don’t even know how to adequately describe.
But on some basal and beautiful level…this boy has changed who I am.
No one is a lost case anymore.
After being his mama for all these years, I can forgive people who have wronged me…and move on.
I’m not angry at their father anymore.
On some level, I can date and let men in.
Okay, that’s not completely true.
But I’m working on it.
I work in healthcare management, and when I hire someone who turns out to be an apparent waste, I spend every last ounce of my energy trying to save them.
Trying to make them see their worth.
When my teenage daughter loses an AAU basketball game and won’t speak for an hour, it is my mission to make it a learning experience. To let her know how worthy she is, how talented…how fierce, how focused, how determined…
All of the struggles my son has been through have prepped me for every other single part of my life.
Which leads me to believe…
we get the kids we’re meant to have.
Or by whatever means.
Those kids are meant to be ours because they are meant to tweak and change and fine-tune parts of us we didn’t even know existed.
And yes, some days, we want to ship those kiddos off to someone else to raise.
And that’s okay.
Because most days we pull up our boot straps, we teach them to say please and to tie shoes and to wipe from the back…and we carry on.
For we are parents.
We have a love/hate relationship with our kids… if we are honest.
And we make whatever sacrifices are necessary to provide for their needs.
On Friday my son, my youngest, became a teenager.
A freaking teenager.
How did that even happen?
Just yesterday he was driving me mad with the non-verbal behavior of a 3-year old, throwing tantrums that I managed with Merlot, and breaking $400 worth of toys and books at the daycare that I had to replace.
And I am so grateful for every last lesson because they have made me who I am today.
Are we perfect?
Not even a little.
But are we progressing?