I'm not really that into holidays in general, but Mother's Day last weekend felt strangely significant.
Maybe that's because it was my first "real" Mother's Day...
...Or maybe it's because it was just a simple, perfect day.
Last year, the holiday fell right in the middle of the few days we were back at home between Jojo's third heart cath and his G-tube surgery. We didn't have the energy to do anything other than catch up on sleep and prepare for the next procedure.
All we did this year was go out for breakfast smoothies, sit by the riverfront, and take Jojo to the playground... but it dawned on me that a year ago, I wouldn't have been able to imagine a future Jojo being able to do any of those things.
Today, on the eve of his second birthday and two days away from my 30th birthday(!!), I'm finding myself thinking back to what I thought being a parent would be like (before heterotaxy presented itself, of course). I certainly never would have expected to be bowled over with emotion by seeing my child drink a smoothie.
Unlike nearly every other decision I'd had to make in adulthood up to that point, making the choice to have children wasn't terribly difficult. I knew becoming a parent wouldn't necessarily be easy, but I really just wasn't that worried about it.
I worried (and worried, and worried) about so many other, minor things that it's actually a little funny to remember how calm I was about what would be such a life-changing event even under ordinary circumstances.
Although now I understand that it's probably impossible for anyone to be fully prepared to raise a medically complex child, I suddenly felt WAY in over my head once he was prenatally diagnosed.
All of that confidence I'd had in myself was gone, and self-loathing and fear took its place.
I was afraid to let myself get attached to a baby I might lose, and then I'd feel completely horrible and selfish for thinking that way. I thought he was doomed for being born to me of all people and that he deserved a more mature, more resilient mother instead.
Thanks in large part to all of the other moms of medically fragile children I've met over the past two years (both virtually over Facebook and in person), I'm learning to be easier on myself.
By sharing their stories and readily offering gentle advice, these women have helped to normalize the difficult tasks we have to do to keep our children alive and the complex emotions we experience as a result.
They've taught me the art of doing the best you can and accepting our own imperfections, because sometimes love really is all our kids need.
Love, and mango smoothies, that is.