This precious photo was taken while celebrating Christmas with Shawn's family in Minnesota. Benjamin's new friend Clint is the brother-in-law of a cousin. The last time we saw him I was early in my pregnancy with Benjamin, having no idea that my baby growing inside carried an extra chromosome. I wrote about meeting Clint in my book Reflections from Holland: A New Mother's Journey With Down Syndrome as I reflected on the various individuals with Down syndrome I met before giving birth to my son. It warmed my heart to watch these two connect over the holidays!
Clint has a natural love for children, but he was especially drawn to Benjamin. Upon observing our little guy for awhile he informed his sister, "That boy...he's just like me!" From that point on he tried to interact with our son at every opportunity. With my prompting, Clint sang the first line of "The Wheels on the Bus" with the hand motions, securing Benjamin's approval! (If you can't sing his favorite song, he will probably choose to ignore you. If you can at least sing the first line, you will probably be friends for life!)
As I did my best to make conversation with Clint that afternoon (his speech is rather difficult to understand), the thing that struck me the most was how much he talked about his mom. To my knowledge, he's been living in a group home setting for several years now, and I am unsure about how much he sees his mother at this point in life, but she is still at the forefront of his thoughts. He reminisced about how she used to rock him and sing to him when he was little. He shared about how she helped him learn to walk and talk. Everything he said about her he spoke with such fondness. I was reminded once again the vast importance and significance of motherhood.
There is no real predictability when raising children, but I was thinking the other day about how much more pronounced this can be when raising a child with special needs. There is no definitive time for when certain milestones will be reached. Currently, I have three children wearing diapers. I find comfort in the fact that within a few years, both Joelle and Josiah should be potty-trained. I have no certainty of the timing of this for Benjamin. Joelle is a chatter box, and I am confident that Josiah will be talking as well within the next few years. I do not know when Benjamin will begin to speak. I know that Joelle and Josiah will eventually grow up and set out on their own. While I hope and pray that Benjamin will able to live independently one day, I know that he may need to stay with us, and I'm okay with that. I've realized that in certain areas he is going to "need" Mommy longer than my other two. I want to rise to the occasion and be the best mother to him that I can be.
Oftentimes the demands of the present can press down on me and leave me feeling overwhelmed. This has especially been true as our family has adjusted to the gift of a third child and all the extra work and busyness that has required. Oftentimes the mother I want to be and the mother that comes out in the midst of my stress and exhaustion are not the same. It's easy to become discouraged at this point, but I cannot afford to stay there. I am comforted as I realize that, while no mother is perfect, a mother's love and nurture has such a long-lasting impact. I know that Clint's mother was not perfect; yet the love that she gave her son is still of utmost importance in his life. I am even more comforted by the truth that I do not have to try to be a good mom by my own strength. Jesus is inviting me daily to draw on His strength, His grace, and His wisdom as I love and nurture these little treasures He's entrusted to my care.
"From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
(Psalm 61:2, NKJV)
..."My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness..."
(2 Corinthians 12:9, NKJV)
"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed,
because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness."
(Lamentations 3:22-23, NKJV)
Yes, a picture can be worth a thousand words. The truth I am reminded of through the picture I shared today is worth a lifetime, and the Word of God that comforts me is eternal!