The Odd Advice My Mom Gave Me About Being a Special Needs Mom
Do you remember playing in the bathtub as a kid? The goal was not to get clean but to play until the skin on your feet and hands got wrinkly. Do you remember picking scabs, counting bruises or jumping up and down on the bed?
How about spending who knows how much time figuring out all the quirky little things our little bodies could do? This entailed sitting cross-legged with both feet on top of the thighs, trying to do a handstand or a somersault and climbing trees as high as possible until mom got nervous.
It didn’t matter how much time was wasted swinging at the park, talking to friends or playing basketball because there seemed to be an endless amount of time to grow up.
As an adult, time seems more limited. I find it hard to spend too much time playing make believe with my kids when there are piles of laundry waiting to be washed, dirty dishes in the sink and dinner needs to be made. It’s a shame because my kids will grow too fast, and the window of opportunity to have kid-fueled adventures is quickly fading.
Days after my son was diagnosed with an incurable disease called tuberous sclerosis complex, I cried to my mom on the phone. I told her I felt like I would never be able to move forward and enjoy being a mom again. She gave me what seemed to be odd but simple advice: “Next time he takes a bath, put on your bathing suit and take it with him. Put a bunch of bubbles in the bath and play.” She gave no explanation, and I wondered if she truly realized the magnitude of what I was telling her. How would this make my broken heart feel any better?
I didn’t really want to do it, but I knew my mom. She would make sure I did it, so that evening, we drew him his bath and filled it full of bubbles. I put on an old pair of shorts and a tank top and sat with him in the tub. He was only 3 months old, so I sat him on my knee and put the bubbles on his little nose and in his hair. His older brother stood at the edge of the tub and played with the bubbles as well. My oldest thought the notion of Mommy in the tub with her clothes on and covered in bubbles was too funny. I began to smile again. In the middle of the bubble-filled tub, I was reminded my newly diagnosed son was the same boy he was before we learned of his diagnosis. He needed all the things he had before, especially the best of his mommy.
The few minutes I spent acting like a kid didn’t solve our problems. There are days I fret, and I have had many more tear-filled conversations with my mom. But what it did do is remove me briefly from the fast-paced world of adulthood and remind me of why it is such a joy to have children. My kids are oblivious to the responsibilities of adulthood, as they should be, but I can’t be oblivious to their childhood. My children need me to be an adult, but they also need me to understand what it’s like to be a child. So sometimes I need to act like a kid. The laundry, dishes and dinner can wait wait so my kids and I can just have fun.
So if you’re reading this post, here’s my challenge to you: Go be a kid. Do it. Blow bubbles, find a park and ride on the swing. Make sure you lean back as far as you can on the way forward so it looks like your feet are touching the sky and say, “I’m flying!” Run up a slide. Hop from one piece of living room furniture to the other, pretending the floor is lava. Make a blanket fort or draw yourself a bath with way too many bubbles.
Yes, adulthood is about maturity, but it doesn’t mean all the fun of childhood should be lost. You will be amazed what a few moments away from adulthood will do for you. Make time for these moments. You will look back on them and smile. So go ahead and take a moment. Be a kid.
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