This year marked the boys first birthday where I wasn't sad, scared and feeling that terror in my stomach. That feeling like they are drowning, reaching out for me and I stand there watching them claw for the surface, yet I am unable to help.
The first year I wasn't weighed down by developmental checklists and charts.
This thing used to haunt me. One day I finally threw the sucker away and never looked back. It's called HELP- Hawaii Early Learning Profile and it's a checklist containing 685 specific skills and behaviors in relation to all areas of development. I've spent countless hours of my life reviewing this with teachers, psychologists and State case workers. Plus numerous other reports based on developmental assessments.
I've spent so much time feeling scared because the communication gap was growing bigger and wider and into unknown dimensions we can't even measure yet. And there were so many skills they needed to be doing that they just weren't.
The state always scheduled reviews and evaluations right before each boy's birthday. We painfully would discuss each report and assess where the boys were in developmental age. It sucks the wind out of you to hear your almost three year old is communicating at a 10 month old level. It starts a cascade of awful feelings which made birthdays feel like funerals I simply had to get through. I felt that typical- Why do they have to grow so fast? Mom emotions. But on top of that panic and fear- Please God- Don't let them grow so fast without learning what they are supposed to be learning. I am so scared at how far behind they are. I am so scared about everything. And then the guilt- the guilt for feeling the pain. The inner voice that said You are AWFUL. If you were a good mom you would only feel joy on this day that we celebrate their birth.
I ached. For them and for me. To hear about all the things they weren't able to do was awful- but also it brought the fear of the unknown and the not knowing if we would ever be able to teach them what they needed to know. I would leave those meetings exhausted, wanting to sleep a thousand years and wake up in a place where life felt alright.
And this year for their birthdays- without warning or preparation, I suddenly just realized I wasn't sad. There were no checklists or assessments in sight. I was joyous and grateful and filled with the perspective I have tried unsuccessfully to talk myself into over the years.
A year forward is a gift. A one of a kind, incredible, irreplaceable gift. I looked through my last twelve months of pictures and I can see that now, at least for today. A year is so many good things that have absolutely nothing to do with charts and spreadsheets.
A year is approximately 1,342 leg hugs.
A year is holidays and celebrations together.
It's 365 sunsets.
And trying exciting, crazy new things.
A year contains so much laughter that hopefully you can't even count that high. But I'm guessing somewhere around the lines of 40 billion infinity times infinity squared.
A year can contain the first time they ever held hands.
And four million, twenty thousand happy, flappy jumps.
A year contains about 48 Speech Therapy sessions where I sit on the floor so I can get the best view possible. Where I cheer and yell out loud answers by mistake because I get so excited. BLUE!!! SAY BLUE!!!
A year is 100 wishes, made by me and them.
A year is a thousand trips to Target.
A year is Greyson learning to write his name.
And Parker kinda, sorta, mostly being potty trained.
A year is a trillion kisses
And 84 ice cream cones
A year is a blessing. A year of outgrowing old habits and shoes and hair cuts. A year watching them sleep and breathe, chest rising up and down. A year is a gift of magic, unique to each and every one of us. A custom portrait made with all the colors of the world.
It's not about the checklists, charts and evaluations. It's about the moments. The incredible moments we have together on this earth. The hard moments, the beautiful ones, the moments we ache and the moments we can't believe how lucky we are.
That's what a year means to me.