I was a young first-time mom. Not teenage young, but young. None of my friends already had little ones. No nieces and nephews to ‘learn’ from. I did some babysitting, but not a lot.
And then we are told Jacob is special needs. Only it wasn’t called that. The report said, ‘severe, profound mental retardation’. And the questioning began. Did I do something? Did we do something? Could anything have been done differently to make sure this didn’t happen again? Question after question after question and then more questions!
I’m going back decades to tell a story about one incident. Mike and I were invited to spend the weekend with friends out of town. Mamaw and Papaw were on board with keeping both boys for three days/two nights. It was a welcomed get-away. We had a great time. Except the part where I spent hours that Saturday in the Six Flags Theme Park infirmary.
I missed them terribly and could not wait to get back. There were no cell phones for FaceTiming or even just a quick midday call.
Upon our return, Josh was happy to see us. Jacob was indifferent. Mamaw proceeded to tell us all the things they had done. And, that Jacob didn’t miss us at all. Or, even seem to realize we were gone.
That. That should have pleased me. Did it? NO. See. I was an insecure mom. It bothered me so much. Crazy, huh? I should have been thrilled that they made it fine, without incident. That Jacob slept well and ate well. Played happily.
Instead. It hit me hard. One of those gut punches that comes out of nowhere. Was I important to him? Why wasn’t he behaving as a typical child? I knew the answer to that but didn’t like it. Did he love his grandparents more than me?
Well over 30 years later, I still remember how crummy that felt. It wasn’t until many years afterwards that I realized I was very insecure. I didn’t know how to be a mom. I know, none of us really do. Just learn as you go! I hadn’t ‘half’ raised a much younger sibling. If anyone questioned why I was doing anything a certain way, I would feel I wasn’t measuring up. Disability does that to you. Makes you wonder if you’ll ever get it right.
I’m an oldest child and have many of those characteristics: motivated, responsible, controlling, perfectionist, confident. You can imagine how feeling like I wasn’t being the perfect mom shattered my psyche. Quickly some of the traits that were natural for me, weren’t possible. Pretty much flew out the window. Everything was out of my control. I often felt like whatever I did wasn’t good enough. Self-imposed pressure.
Fast forward to today. I lost or let go of those insecurities years ago. And not because I felt I had mastered being a super mom. Quite the opposite. I learned that I don’t have to be. A first born raising her first born all the while learning I had everything it takes to be what he needs. Only because I’m equipped by my creator. My heavenly Father who made me who and what I am.
How warped to be sad because Jacob didn’t miss me. He was in a familiar environment. He was being well taken care of by attentive grandparents. They were fantastic. This was never about anything they said but about everything I hoped to hear.
Jacob didn’t cry when we left or smile when we got back. It was such a hard reminder that he was in his own world. A world where he is loved immensely. A world where he has had immeasurable influence on me. Every single day of his life. A world where he can brighten my day, 100 fold, just by straining to see me and making eye contact as I wait to pick him up in the afternoons.
I’m thankful that my insecurities made me stronger and helped provide security for my boy.