The other day I was driving around town running errands when an old familiar song came on my iPod. A song that once brought me back to life. The song is “Hello World” by Lady Antebellum. I think I wrote about it before on this blog. The first time I heard this song was a few years after getting Jackson’s diagnosis. It was at a time in my life when I had just started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. A turning point when I started to notice that there was “a light, a little grace, a little faith unfurl” (to quote the song).
I think for a long time I hid from others the true devastation that was going on inside of me. I grieved for so long over the lost little boy I thought I was going to have. I put on a brave face while inside I was secretly thinking things would be better off for me if I died. A couple of years ago I testified at a senate hearing in our state legislature about that despair. I would be driving on the freeway and would think to myself “What if I just swerved into that semi? Would I go quickly or live to suffer more?” It was a dark time for me. There was a lot to accept. The things Jackson may or may not do, how different my life would be, how hard it would be at times, the fear I would live with surrounding having a special needs child. All I wanted was for my little boy to be “normal”. Why couldn’t he?! I felt I was being punished for something I did in my life and that I had done something wrong to deserve this. Now, even as I write this, remembering those feelings is hard and painful. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to stop. Just stop Stacey! I had no idea that it would get better, so much better. That there would be a day when I was thankful that Jackson was born with disabilities. That the day would come eventually when I not only said “HELLO WORLD!!!” but embraced it with a new found passion I never even knew existed inside of me.
Jackson have given me so much. He has taught me more in his 7 years than I learned in the 36 before he was born. He has made me a better person, a stronger person. He has opened my heart and my mind. He has made me smarter, more understanding, grateful, and patient. Well, I still have some work to do on that patient part but I am better. He has turned me into an advocate for people with disabilities. Something I would have NEVER envisioned for myself. But something that I truly, truly love. I have met the most extraordinary people because of Jackson. I have so many friends in my life that I draw strength from, admire and love just because my son was born with disabilities. My life is so full because of my son. I’m not sure how I will ever repay Jackson for the life he inadvertently has given me.
During that dark period I feared I would never experience the joy parents get from their children. Or pride. Boy was I wrong. I am so proud of Jackson and how far he has come and continues to progress. I get joy every day when I look at his cute little face and hear his intoxicating laugh. I may not be the parent I thought I would be standing on the sidelines cheering my son on as he scored a goal or basket, but I know now that I will still be on the sidelines cheering him on (for totally different reasons). And I will be louder, prouder and by golly the most grateful!
Today I give thanks to my teacher Jackson for encouraging me to dig deep and try to find my best self. I’m still digging, and probably always will, but I’ve discovered a part of me that never existed and parts that laid dormant for years until Jackson showed up. I had no idea the changes in store for me on the day he was born. I knew I was getting a new name (Mom) but not a whole new life and purpose. And a big shout out to Lady Antebellum for giving me the song that would give me the courage to say “Hello World”, something I couldn’t do for a very long time.
"Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you’d have. It’s about understanding he is exactly the person he’s supposed to be. And, if you’re lucky, he might be the teacher who turns you into the person you’re supposed to be.” - The Water Giver