Recently, I have been reminiscing about how my life has changed since becoming a mother.
Upon reflection, I look like a zombie most days and fashion the ‘bedraggled’ look far too often. I have approximately zero time to myself. The time I do have to myself is spent slumped on the sofa procrastinating when I should be doing other things. I have probably had about ten nights in the past year where Oliver has slept through, even then I wake up to check he’s okay. I may as well be nocturnal. I’ve gained four stone through comfort eating alone, my maternity wear fits better now than it did when I was nine months pregnant. I am a mammoth. Oh the shame.
Although, most importantly, I have found myself bewildered with the amount that I have learned from Oliver. How can such a tiny human bring so much knowledge into the world without any intention nor care for it? It’s only been just over a year and I have learned more from him than he will ever know.
It is truly astounding the impact a little one has on not only ourselves, but those around us and our daily lives. He has taught me so much that I didn’t even know there was to be learned.
He has shown me happiness, true unequivocal happiness. He has inspired me with his courage, strength and determination. He is fearless. I am forever in awe of him.
He has taught me to look for the slightest positive of a terrible situation and to cling to it. To remember that no matter how bad things get, they could always be worse. He has taught me to keep going, when I want nothing more than to so desperately give up.
Above all, he has taught me to be thankful; regardless of circumstance.
Having a child with special needs means I definitely appreciate the little things. So many simple routines or actions escalated into major tasks for Oliver.
For example, it took Oliver until he was 11 months old to be able to firstly hold a small teether without dropping it, secondly make the link to put it to his mouth and thirdly, to actually use it and not lose his grip.
‘Using a teether’ is such a simple action and generally one of impulse, yet for Oliver it was broken down into different steps and mastering each step was a milestone within itself.
When your child has additional needs you analyse absolutely everything.
My mind never stops worrying or wondering whether Oliver will ever be able acquire certain abilities. The ‘will he, won’t he?’ questions are an endless cycle of exhausting thoughts. If he will, when will he? How will he? Can I be doing more? Should I be doing more? What if he doesn’t? What do I do?
I have never felt a more intense sense of relief than when Oliver began to show an interest in toys and actually attempt to interact with them. It could well have been a day that never came (for some families the sad reality is that it may not), but I am beyond thankful, grateful and blessed that it did.
So, when my mind decides to worry about all of the things that I have no control over, I try to remember all of the wonderful things that I am thankful for and not to dwell on the ‘what ifs and maybes’.
I have an amazing family, a roof over my head, a loving, supportive fiancé to come home to. I have clean water to drink, clothes to wear and I don’t ever have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. I can see, I can hear, I can taste and I can smell. I can walk, I can run (well, attempt to) and I can communicate. I am fortunate to have people to call on when needed and for them to be there.
These are all abilities and things that I often take for granted, yet they are crucial to my wellbeing and happiness. Not to mention Oliver being entirely dependent upon them.
Quite often it’s the ‘little things’ or small gestures from others that put a smile on our face. Somebody asking how your day was, somebody holding a door open for you or making you a drink. They can appear insignificant at the time, potentially not even acknowledged some days. They rarely enter our considerations as our minds are forever whirring elsewhere or we are too preoccupied with other tasks.
Since becoming a mother, I have become far more aware of the world around me. Far more aware of all the things that I can do and that others do for me which I sometimes don’t give a second thought for.
If this past year has taught me anything, it is not to take anything for granted. Whether it be health, happiness, the big or the simple, little things. To reflect and to be thankful regardless of what mood I may be in or day I may have had.
Every smile, every frown, every laugh, every tear, every sound, every sleepless night, every feeding battle, every lingering touch is to be treasured.