It’s no secret around these parts that I’m crazy about my boys. My mom often rolls her eyes when she sees me smothering them with unabashed love and affection. She thinks I’m spoiling them. I think she’s right, and I love every single one of these sappy, eye-roll-worthy exchanges.
I often tell Ian (and Andrew) that I am proud to be his Mama. I want him to know, each and every day, that it is an honor to parent him and his brother, that they are gifts from God, that my world is filled with meaning and purpose because they are in it.
I’ll wait while you finish rolling your eyes.
It’s not that I have some misconception that my kids are perfect; they come from a long lineage of imperfection, actually. Rather, I revel in the daily doses of them, watching as they learn from their mistakes and slowly turn into real live human beings made up of nature, nurture, and everything in between. It’s a metamorphosis of spectacular proportions, made up of thousands of tiny moments, some of which happen so quickly, if I blink, I might miss it.
So it was one such tiny, split second moment yesterday during Sunday mass, that made my heart swoon for the millionth time since becoming a mom. As I sat in the back of the church, my two offspring on either side of me, I couldn’t help but notice the preteen girl sitting in a custom purple wheelchair in front of us. Her father was standing behind her, his strong arms an indication that he had spent the majority of his daughter’s life lifting, holding, and carrying her around. He was doting on her throughout the mass, squeezing her shoulders, whispering in her ear, assuring her he was there as she reached behind her head, searching for his hand.
She was clearly non-verbal but you don’t need mainstream language to express a love like the one between them.
At one point, towards the end of the service, she began to exhibit frustration (which, in the Catholic faith, is fairly universal among children. One hour seems like eternity when you have to sit quietly and *gasp* pay attention to something that doesn’t include a cartoon montage set to hyper music) and her agitation began to build until she was thrashing around in her wheelchair, kicking her legs and flailing her arms while her father stayed calm and tried to soothe her by rocking her back and forth in her chair.
It was in this moment of chaos that Ian turned to look at me and said excitedly:
“Look mom! She’s wearing Asics!”*
Oh how I loved that he was so unaffected by this young girl and her obvious disabilities.
Oh how I loved that he saw past the stuff that would make most adults, let alone kids, stop in their tracks and cringe uncomfortably and instead just saw a girl wearing his favorite kind of sneakers.
Oh how I loved that his lack of judgment and fear was a clear sign of his acceptance of human beings and their vast differences.
I didn’t let on that I felt this way, of course. To do so would be to bring attention to the fact that something was amiss or that his natural response of not reacting was strange or unexpected. The last thing I want to do is mess up the parts of him that are perfect (which, coincidentally, are the parts I can’t take any credit for).
I only hope I can continue to cultivate this unconditional acceptance in him so that he lives his life in such a way that inspires others to do the same.
I worry less about what he’ll be when he grows up and much more about who he’ll be when he grows up.
And so far, I’m liking what I see.
Of course, I made sure to pour on the hugs, kisses, and general suffocating sappiness when we got home from church.
Trust me. It would have made your eyes roll right out of your head.