Saturday, September 10, 2011

to my first grader, who is both wicked and sick.

{i started this letter almost a month ago, and am just now finishing it.}

first day of first grade

dear caleb,

the other day, i opened your door in the morning to ask you a question.  as i peeked in, i saw you kneeling down, saying your morning prayer.  and for some reason, catching you praying on your own made my heart so full and my eyes fill up with tears.

overnight you seem to have changed, you've grown up and not just because there is a baby around now and that always seems to age children next to them.  but you've matured in the way you think, in your taste, and how you talk.

you have always spoken and thought like a mini-adult, which i didn't realize until it was continually pointed out to me that it was unusual.  i had no other children before you to compare you to, but on more often than not, as i've picked you up from playdates, the parents of your friends have said things to me like, "i just love listening to him talk" or "his vocabulary and the way he analyzes situations is amazing" and i realize that you might be just a little unusual, but in a good way.

but the depth that has come recently, just before you started school, was something that i wasn't expecting to come so quickly.  i figured this year you would change, but it has already started happening.  you are aware of more, perceptive of more.  this has been both good and bad {mainly because of a little attitude that has cropped up every now and then}, but mostly good.  

going to pick out school clothes with you was both hilarious and shocking.  you've never been too particular about what you wear, but this time was different.  you informed me before we left that you wanted shirts that were either "wicked" or "sick."  where in the world did you learn that street lingo?  it made me laugh so hard.  and i would hold up shirts for you, thinking they were "sick" enough, but you would in form me that no, in fact they weren't.  so we went to find shirts that were still "wicked" without pictures of satan on them.  because i have to have limits, you know.  the mom veto will always be there, so you may as well just get used to it.

you want to wear your hair in a mohawk, and again, i have no idea where this idea came from, but i love that you want to be an individual.  i'll try to relax and just let it happen.  except at church.  no mohawks at church, and in fact now that i'm thinking about it, no wicked shirts either. 

buddy, you have really started noticing the physical difference between you and your friends.  the gap has started widening even more.  

you've been really hard on yourself lately, and the way that you talk about yourself when it comes to your physical abilities.  which is why your dad and i made the decision to tell you tonight that you have cerebral palsy.

we knew we would eventually, but were waiting for the right time.  we wanted to make sure you were mature enough for us to explain it to you, but young enough that it wouldn't weigh too heavily.  we also wanted you to know that there are some things that you can control, and some things that you can't.  hoping that it would help you ease up on the pressure you put on yourself to do more than what might be physically possible, but still believing in yourself that you can overcome and do anything you want to.

we hope we made the right decision, to tell you tonight.  you cried for quite a while, and your dad held you.  we looked at pictures of your first two years--hooked up to EEG's, wearing your orthopedic casts for the first time, your multiple hospital stays.  we talked about all of the blessings that you have, and that everyone struggles in one way or another.  some struggles are on the outside, some on the inside.  

we talked about all of the gifts that you've been given to overcome this challenge.  

your fighting spirit, which was evident by just the mere fact that you survived to be born,  when the odds were against you.  and you continued fighting, through pain and seizures and physical therapy, orthopedic casts and continual testing.  

 2 weeks ago, MRI #6

i would love to tell you that it is over, that things will be easier.  but i don't know.

to be honest, life is never going to just be easy.  but it will be more pleasant to go through if you choose to be happy no matter what comes your way.

other gifts are your willpower, and courage.  your love for others, and how this challenge will help you feel even more empathy for those struggling because of what you've been through yourself.  

your friendliness, self-confidence and honest love of life will all be things that help you face anything with optimism if you choose it.

i know that this has been hard for you to hear, and i know that there may be more that you have to overcome, but i also know how blessed you are.  there are many others who face physical challenges that make yours look miniscule.

caleb, i will always look at you as one who provided the biggest turning point in my life.  you brought a new perspective to me, and have been a daily reminder of just how lucky i am.  being your mother has made so many things so much less important than i had thought that they were, while at the same time also made so many things so much more important.  that doesn't make sense to you now, but one day you will have a child of your own and you will know what i mean.

your dad and i talk daily about how grateful we are for you, about what a good boy you are.  you are good from the inside-out and we are so proud of who you are already becoming.

so, my 6 year old strong, brave, hilarious, intelligent, loving, wicked {of course in the best way possible}, kind, sick {in the healthiest way of course}, and soft-hearted boy,  

thank you for being who you are,
and i can't wait to see who you become.

i love you.

love, mom


Anonymous said...

Aww, that made me teary...what a beautiful letter to your son...he will cherish that someday! :)

Michele said...

Thanks for sharing your letter to your son. He is so lucky to have parents like you guys. That will be a special letter to read when he is older. Thanks for the reminder that some things are important in life and other things (like dishes) are not.

Charlotte said...

I wish I were as articulate as you. Something to aspire to.

Thanks for sharing with us.