Isaac just turned five. (It seems to be what I’ve mostly been blogging about! tired of it yet? this’ll be the last post…promise!) When Andrew turned five, my heart broke. It up and shattered on me. It was the first time I could clearly see Andrew’s delays…and that clarity was HARD.
At the time, I considered myself an expert on five year olds. I had worked with hundreds of them as a teacher. My students were a diverse mix of ability…but, naturally, all of them were at a level that they could attend a regular, ol’ Kindergarten class. And so seeing Andrew get closer and closer to five, and seeing that he wasn’t getting more and more like the students I had had…was really hard. It was a very tearful time for me.
But now, here, Isaac’s gone and done it. When he woke up on his birthday, he stumbled out to the living room, and said to me “Mommy, I am a new old. I am FIVE years old.” And I just felt happy for him. Happy that he was so proud of himself for his five-year-old status.
I don’t feel heartbroken this time. Not in the least. I have shed no tears about this birthday, swallowed no hard lumps-in-the-throat….and I attribute this all to Andrew.
I say this all the time, but here I go again: my boys have changed me. And I say it all the time, because it’s something I keep noticing again and again: the ways I’ve changed. The picture I had in my head of a “normal five year old” is less clear to me as it once was. I know that Isaac is an atypical five year old…but that fact doesn’t scare me like it used to. At times I even feel a sense of pride about how unusual he is. I LOVE saying things like “Isaac woke up on his birthday and said ‘I am a new old.'” I LOVE that he says the alphabet backwards. I love when something unusual stops him in his tracks and I love watching him respond to whatever that thing is. The world through Isaac’s eyes is just beautiful. I DON’T love that potty training isn’t a done deal, that meltdowns in public are more likely than not, and that sometimes the most basic things are a fight-to-the-finish. It’s not all sunshine and roses…but honestly it’s not the sunshine and roses that are changing me so much. It’s the hard parts that change me. It’s learning how to deal with the meltdowns, years of potty training, managing challenging behavior…those are the things that have left their mark. Those are the things that have forced me over and over and over again to grow.
And there are so many ways that Andrew has paved this path. Andrew’s quirks, by in large, are less prominent than Isaac’s…but as the first one through, he’s done a fantastic job of stretching me. I’ve learned so, so much from him. When the things I went through with Andrew, come around again with Isaac, I can clearly see the road Andrew, unknowingly, has paved. So much is easier with Isaac because of Andrew. It’s just a remarkable team I’ve been given. And the effect of one on another is something I’ve really taken time to appreciate this week.
When Andrew turned five my heart broke. It honestly felt very sharp, and shatter-y…but the truth is, my heart is not made of glass. It didn’t break the way a window or a mirror or a vase would. My heart, like yours, is a muscle. And it’s strange to me how much I’ve been thinking about this…my heart…but I have been, and it’s helped. My heart is a muscle and it’s just getting stronger and stronger.
And that’s pretty awesome.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the lionhearted moms out there. But most of all, Happy Mother’s Day to my own fierce, lionhearted mama. :)