Parenting is a journey, of sorts. The moment I would see those fuzzy distorted mugs in the ultrasound pictures, the hopes and dreams of the little underdeveloped gummy bear would begin. Dreams of future scholars, athletes, musicians, or humanitarians begin to unfold. I always dreamt big when my children were in utero. God always had something special planned for dealing with the preconceived notions I had of the children I had not yet met as well as my aptitude for being a mother. In both cases, I have a feeling that my higher power was laughing to himself, because what I believed and what I found to be true were two entirely different things. Parenting my girls has been, at times, challenging. However, parenting my son, Evan, has been exhausting.
He was born early in the morning the day after our first anniversary and he was 8 pounds and 2 ounces of adorableness. His appetite was monstrous and it hasn’t really slowed down much over the last 18 years. As an infant, he was golden. He slept well, ate better and was content the majority of the time. The closer he got to being a year old, the more something seemed amiss with my boy. When he was 10 months old I attended a Pampered Chef with Evan in tow. There were several women packed into a small living room and they were fawning over him and squeezing his irresistible chubby cheeks. Evan began to hyperventilate, gasping for air and wheezing. I rushed him outside into the cool night air and he immediately calmed down and began to breathe normally. When I tried to rejoin the party, he began to breathe rapidly and wheeze with every breath. I was sure my baby had asthma. My baby didn’t have asthma. I didn’t know it at the time, but when Evan was 10 months old, he had his first of many panic attacks.
I had heard of anxiety, but I was completely unaware the debilitating capacity it could have on its victims. There was a tremendous lack of understanding on my (and Kevin’s) part about dealing with a young child with an acute anxiety disorder. We struggled, we faltered, and finally we accepted.
We wanted him to be like all the other kids. Other kids were busy doing kid things. They were laughing, playing sports, going to school, and doing so without any apprehension. Anything outside of his immediate comfort zone (home) produced a visceral reaction that left him crying, shaking, heart racing, and sick to his stomach. There wasn’t any amount of reassurance we could offer him that would ease his distress. We coaxed, begged and made promises of great reward if he would just “TRY”. If only we had known how hard he was trying.
There has been a long history of trial and error with medications, behavior modification and various attempts of discipline. It is a strenuous plight attempting to fit a square peg into a world of round holes. Regretfully, in doing so, I failed to recognize all the uniquely wonderful attributes of my handsome square peg.
There was a time when I thought we would lose him. His battle with anxiety and depression left us standing in the gap when he wasn’t sure he could make it through the dark valley. I have no way to know the battles that have waged in his soul; I just know I am so very thankful he chose to fight.
Sometimes, I am accused of letting Evan’s struggle cloud my decisions regarding what is best for him. I have been accused of spoiling him, letting him get away with things I shouldn’t and not being tougher on him. I take complete responsibility for living up to most of these accusations. As a parent trying to discern how hard to push a child who has been so close to the edge, I feel that the judgments of others standing in anyone’s shoes other than mine are simply a reflection of good intentions. I can tell you honestly, that even the best intentions don’t stick when they are thrown at a situation from any distance. In order to get things to stick, you wade out into the muck of the matter.
Sometimes, I want to choke him. He can be a real handful and this has nothing to do with his anxiety or depression. He has broken my heart and disappointed me time and again. His tendency to find shortcuts, expend zero effort and completely leave his gifts and talents unutilized in any conventional sense are things which have caused me many sleepless nights. In those ways, he is a lot like his mother.
Today Evan graduated from high school. There were many days I didn’t think I would see him standing on that stage, accepting his diploma. I have seen this young man through the many seasons of life and now he is standing on the cusp between being a child of progress and a man of promise. I know the depth of his intelligence and the strength he is capable of harnessing. I pray that when he looks inside himself that he will recognize the man God created him to be and the courage to see the design through to completion.
Although we have walked through seasons of storms, there is no question the absolute sunshine Evan has brought to my life. His brilliant wit, imagination, and the ability to charm the pants off a rattlesnake have been a vital heartbeat in our lives. Kids don’t come with GPS and Evan has often been an off-road adventure, but I haven’t regretted one minute of the trip.
To My Son:
- May you always know you are loved.
- Happiness is never found in things…true happiness is in the moments we share with one another.
- Invest your time and love in others, it pays unbelievable dividends.
- Be quick to forgive.
- Continue to be kind to those less fortunate.
- Real men cry, kiss babies, change diapers, open doors for ladies, love Jesus, and hug their moms in public.
- Always admit when you have made a mistake. Accountability is part of being human and so is making mistakes.
- Don’t let the world define you.
- Keep your promises. A man is only as good as his word.
- Work hard and always give any task your best self.
- Play hard.
- Be kind.
- Look for the positive in every situation and cling to it.
- Always know that I am so thankful that God gave me a son and that son is you.
All My Love-MOM