Today is Sam’s birthday and he is 10 years old. Where did the time go? What an interesting and amazing journey we have been on and continue to be on.
When Sam was born he changed my world. I had a plan for my life and I was happily in the middle of it. I had gone to college, established my career in Marketing Communications, married the love of my life, began my family and as I looked into the future…I had it figured out. I would gear back my career while my children were little and when they were in school I would again jump into my career where the sky was the limit and I would excel.
Hmmmm, but then Ben began to struggle in school (not part of my plan). I had to regroup, rethink things…so I decided I would have to wait and help Ben while he was in school. Okay, it would be harder to jump back into a career with that much time away but I figured it was still doable.
Danielle was my happy go lucky little girl. She was a happy baby, toddler and jumped into school without any problem. She was my athlete and I had to shuffle my schedule for her practices, games and activities but life was going along great.
And then along came Sam. I had always wanted 3 children. When I was little and played dolls, I had 3 children. Now…I can say that Sam’s arrival changed my world and it was a shock but if I’m being honest…and as I reflect on my life today….God was preparing me. From little on I knew I would have 3 children. Upon the birth of my first 2 I had an overwhelming need to give thanks and give back for the blessings given me by these two children. I volunteered my time at Make A Wish and the Ronald McDonald House. I became familiar with Children’s Hospital, special needs children and was in awe of the many families I met that were on a journey very different from mine and yet I felt we were so alike.
Ben introduced me to the world of learning issues. I began to realize Ben learned differently and we struggled as we tried to figure out how to help him but I was always amazed at his strengths. Ben looked at the world with a level of detail I could not even imagine. We could walk into a place and Ben would always remember so much more, down to the very smallest detail than I could have ever hoped to. Ben taught me how to work with him and that teaching journey included yelling, crying, frustration, feeling hopeless at times, jumping into homeschooling and a whole lot of prayer for guidance…but we have come so far. Ben is a sophomore at our public high school and he requires less and less help from me. We have found the path that works for him…it is not without its hills and valleys but he is moving forward.
When Danielle was born she seemed to give me my balance back. Here was this sweet, kind, caring and happy child that just flew through school with ease. I’m pretty sure when I was little and playing with my dolls I had all Danielle’s. She is my “ray of sunshine”, she is one of my travel partners, she has watched me work with both Ben and Sam and has never felt slighted. She loves and hates her brothers just like any sister would. She certainly doesn’t give them any leeway or treat them as different…well except for her soft spot for Sammy (sorry Ben, you don’t seem to have a spot…she would consider you more of like a rash??).
And then along came Sam…as stubborn as Ben, as creative as Ben, able to get in the same trouble as Ben, happy and caring like Danielle, smiling and laughing like Danielle and yet so very different from both of them. Sam’s journey has not been an easy one. His multiple diagnosis and medical issues have all been a journey of their own…but they don’t for a moment take away from who Sam is. Sam is an amazing little boy that has captured my heart, changed my life, re-directed my goals/career and has challenged me to re-think everything I thought I knew. Today I realize that my original life plan was okay…a little generic but I would have made it work…but now my life is full. I enjoy my time with Sam…him teaching me and me struggling to teach him. Sam has strengthened my faith in God, he has challenged me to be a better person. Over the years I have had to really look at myself, my strengths and my weaknesses, my thinking and my beliefs and I often failed the challenge. And with every failure/challenge and break through is another lesson learned. When I used to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald house I would often see a family going through a challenging episode in their lives and I would think to myself, “how are they continuing…if that were my child…why…how is this going to change their life…what does the future hold for them…what would I do??” Sam has forced me to answer each and every one of those questions.
I never signed up for this journey…I never thought my life would have taken these turns but I’m not unhappy, I’m not miserable…I embrace each day and I simply love my children and my life.
Tomorrow is yet another twist in the journey. My heart hurts for the pain and discomfort Sam will have to go through to have his hip repaired. My heart hurts for my child. But Sam is challenging me again, to get him through this, to not let this define him. As Sam’s mom I have learned that no matter what diagnosis/illness/challenge we encounter…we will not let it define who Sam is or our lives. It may interfere, cause us to re-group, re-think but we will get through this too.
Sam, I love you. I love the way you smile and the way you laugh so I have to laugh with you. I love the smell of your hair against my cheek when you give me my daily hugs. I love running my fingers through your hair and tickling your neck. I love how you rest your hand on my shoulder when you have something to say to me. I love the never-ending, “Mom, Mom, um Mom”. I love how you say “Yesssss” with an elongated s sound. I love how a bad day for you can turn completely around with a diet Pepsi, or a trip to the movies for popcorn and of course, a diet Pepsi. I love how you react to things in nature, not just noticing them but becoming fully absorbed in them. I love how your face lights up when your Dad walks in the door and how his reflects yours. I love how you still smile and laugh in your sleep. I love watching you figure things out. I love how you seem to secretly communicate with our dog Buddy. I love listening to you relive your day as you go to sleep. I love how you walk with your very own swagger and the expression on your face when you run to get your ice cream. I love how you always say please and thank you. I love watching you sing "Happy Birthday" and blowing out your candles...at least twice sometimes three times. I love just being with you.
Sam, I simply love you! Happy Birthday, my big boy!!!
Please everyone, let’s get those prayers going. Pray for God to be with Sam and comfort him, keep him calm, help him to relax. Pray for his surgeon, his anesthesiologist, his pulmonary doctor and all the nurses and medical staff that God would guide them. Pray for Jeff and I to stay strong, to be comforted with the type of peace that can only come from the Lord our Savior. Pray that Sam comes out of anesthesia well and that he adjusts to his brace and is ready to come home in a short period of time. Pray that we are all able to come together at Christmas and give thanks for the greatest gift of all, the birth of Jesus Christ.