Worth It

Noah on the trampoline.


Noah is four years old now. He’s getting tall. He looks like a little boy but he still acts like a two year old. It’s noticeable now. Even to an outsider. We can’t fake it anymore. We can’t excuse his behavior and say he’s just being a toddler. He’s still non verbal. He makes a lot of noise, runs really fast, climbs on everything in sight and doesn’t understand personal space at all. Trying to make him stay in one spot is like trying to force a feral cat into a burlap sack.
This behavior creates a lot of questions and comments when we are in public. It’s usually when I take him to therapy at the hospital. We do this three days a week and there are usually a few people in the waiting room when we get there.
A hospital is normally a quiet place. People silently staring at their phones or softly whispering to each other. Until Noah gets there.
You see, he knows this place like the back of his hand. It’s like his second home and he’s excited to be there. It’s almost like a playground for him. He loves the long hallways, the elevators, the cafeteria, and his therapists. So when Noah comes through those big glass double doors, he comes in happy. And loud. Screaming and running. All eyes immediately look up to the little boy who just blew through the front door like a freight train.
The lady behind the information desk, Victoria, knows us and gives me a quick grin and says “Hey Noah! How ya doing today?” as he runs past her so fast, you half expect to see her loose papers fly off her desk and chase him in his own tailwind. I reply with an energetic “Hey Victoria, he’s doing well today. He’s happy to be here as usual.”
Now this little interaction between Victoria and Noah lets everyone in that waiting room know what’s up. And every once in a while, I can see them working it out in their heads.
He’s must be a regular.
There must be something wrong with him.
That can’t be his mother. It must be his grandmother.
They will watch him for a little while as he makes his regular stops around the room, giggling at random objects. His right hand dancing in front of him like he’s conducting an invisible orchestra. Making sure everything is where it’s supposed to be.
And then the comments start flowing.
And that’s fine. I get it. Curiosity gets the best of them. And they say:
“Boy he must be a handful!”
“No. Not really. He‘s just loud and fast.”
“Is he always this active?”
“Only when he’s awake.”
“Where does he get all that energy?”
“He has that much because he takes half of mine.”
“Is he yours?”
“No. I stopped having kids a long time ago. He’s my grandson.”
I try to make people comfortable so they can ask questions if they want. I encourage questions.
But then there’s that one comment.
“Wow. I don’t know how you do it.”
This is the one that gets me. Because there is no simple answer. And honestly, sometimes I wonder that very same thing myself. I don’t know. I don’t know how I do it. But I can tell you this, it’s not because I have some super human patience level or I have some sort of........I don’t know, magical something or other. I’m just a regular mom under irregular circumstances. And I think any mom that was in my shoes would do the same. All moms are strong. We just do what is put in front of us. We just take one day at a time and push through. And most days, and I really mean that, MOST days are really good. I’m able to find joy in the little things every day.
A few good smiles.
A couple of repeated words.
He closed the door when I ask him to.
He turned around when I said his name. These are all things that I am grateful for on a daily basis. And we celebrate every baby step he makes. But, I have to admit, there are some days I don’t think I can do it. I feel like I can’t handle one more spilled drink or one more clogged toilet or one more load of laundry and I just want to scream. I’m tired of pulling him off the top of the kitchen table and why can’t he just stop licking the cabinets?! And on those days I ask myself that question. How do I do this? How am I expected to do this? And then I let that voice take over and tell myself I can’t do this.
It’s too hard.
And I’m too tired.
But then something always happens. It’s usually something that seems really small at the time.
Like when Noah came to me one day while I was cleaning yet another mess he had made and he pulled on my shirt for me to get up. It was one of those days and as aggravated as I was, I knew he wouldn’t stop pulling until I got up so I let him take my hand and I followed him. He lead me to his trampoline where he climbed in and sat right in the middle then looked at me right in my eyes with this adorable little head tilt and a twinkle in his eyes and he giggled.
There was no misunderstanding what he was saying.
He wanted to play.
How could I say no?
So we jumped. And we jumped. And we tickled. And we played. And then we jumped some more.
And then he started laughing. But not just a regular laugh. It was that from-the-gut laugh that is everything good in this world.
And he looked at me with this big cheesy grin that told me he was happy. No words needed.
And everything was better after that.
I was better after that.
As I got out of the trampoline, I realized that Noah probably knew that all along.
He knew I needed that laugh.
That smile.
He was telling me I AM good enough.
And that interaction with him gave me the strength I needed to finish that day.
Anyway, I guess my point is this:
I don’t know how I do it.
I am not special. I am no more courageous than any other mom. I am not stronger than any other grandmother.
The thing is, we just never know how strong we really are until being strong is the only choice we have.
And besides, the rewards I get from raising this little wonder boy far outweigh the work I have to put in.
So the next time someone says I don’t know how you do it, I’ll just say
because he is SO worth it.