“You know, not making a decision is making one. It’s a way out, because not choosing an option over another means that the decision is made for you,” my dad said. “That’s a decision in itself, and one that you may regret.”
“But I don’t know what to do!” I said, trying not to cry.
“It doesn’t matter,” he replied. “Just choose one. It’s okay to know that you were wrong, later. It’s okay to make an adjustment, after you know more.”
It was 1986, and I chose to go to California to a college that I couldn’t afford. I wanted to leave home. Wondering what my friends, and my parents would think about my choices back then was probably too great of an influence in my decisions. Worrying about regret was, as well.
“I’m going to get a tattoo,” I said. “Of what?” my friend asked. “I dunno,” I replied, knowing that it’d have to be really good to live on my skin for the rest of forever. Finally, I knew what I wanted. It took months of deliberation. I ended up with Chinese symbols on my left ankle. They read “To Die With No Regrets,” because living a life without regrets was my biggest influence back then. I knew that I wanted to live, although I wasn’t yet sure how to do so. And so I put it on my skin, as a reminder.
That my ex did as well is something I no longer regret.
He is no longer an influence in my decisions. He is no longer an influence in my life.
Before becoming pregnant, I dreamed about the little boy I’d have one day. I could see him, and pictured him standing next to a front door of our imagined home. Boots, umbrellas, tennis shoes and balls cluttered the entryway. He was excited, and wanted to go outside to play.
He was blonde, loud, and happy.
I could hear his words “Hey, Mommy?” He must have been about three.
While our entryway looks similar to the way that it did in my daydreams, it’s only now that my son is six that he’s beginning to sound more like the three year old I’d imagined.
He’s blond-ish, older than the boy I’d seen, and much taller, even taking into account his older age.
His words aren’t as clear as they were in my dreams, but they’re as pure. More pure, even.
Having my son changed me, in all of the ways. He is my greatest influence.
That he has special needs is something that, at the age of 21, I didn’t think I’d appreciate.
I once had an argument with my friend Sara. “I wouldn’t even have a baby if I knew he’d be retarded,” I said. “I don’t think I’d love him and that’s just not fair to him.” I thought I had conviction. I thought that saying I’d not have a child with known difficulties was brave. Honest.
Now, I know that I was stupid, wrong, and full of crap. And that the R-Word is as well.
Mothers love their babies (except for when they can’t, which is a different issue).
We see our children in ways that others may never see them. And, because of that, we pray for a world changed. One more filled with empathy and wonder than the one we live in today. This is special needs, and the nature of love.
Almost asleep, his breath deepening by the minute, his hand relaxing into mine both more deeply and further away, my little boy turned and said “Mommy? You know there’s no such thing as alien dolphins, right?”
I smile, and reply, “I didn’t actually know that, buddy, but thank you for telling me.”
I close my eyes and think about his developing brain, and about his awesomeness. I think about having felt sad and sorry for him and for me, because he’s not typical.
And then, I snuggle closer in, decide to stay in the comfort of his dark room for a bit longer, and breathe. I breathe in forgiveness for my younger self, and realize there’s no way that she could have Known. I breathe in forgiveness for others, and know that my little boy is helping them to see.
I breathe out and hope that the biggest influence in my life right now will catch fire, and ignite. I breathe and think “We can do this. We can change the world. I can see the light and the magic.”
Tonight, even if only briefly, I hope that you can too. That tomorrow, we’ll each wake up and give a tired mama a smile. That we’ll pay it forward. That we’ll see the people beneath their colors, their masks, and their worries. That we’ll see. This life is needs, special needs and the nature of love.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, where writers and bloggers gather together around a writing prompt. This week is hosted by me (Kristi of Finding Ninee) and my lovely amazing co-host, Michelle of Crumpets and Bollocks.