Sometimes I feel like I am trapped in an extended version of A Christmas Carol and eventually I will wake up a much wiser version of myself. In the past year, paths have opened when I needed them the most, questions have been resolved when I desperately needed answers, and God has strategically placed people and experiences at just the right moments in time to teach me invaluable lessons.
If you are a regular reader, you may remember a few weeks ago I was having a little bit of a pity party for myself. (Click here to read). No, I didn’t come right out and say, “I’m feeling sorry for myself,” but my words insinuated it.
The Saturday morning after I wrote that post, my eight-year-old son had a flag football game. We had rushed out of the house as usual and I didn’t have time to give Jake all of his supplements before we left. Once we got there, I set out my artillery of supplies onto the picnic table adjacent to the field: Coenzyme Q10 and B vitamin powders, apple juice, water, and most importantly, organic gummy bears (the reward). Yes, I was still in my funk and feeling a little annoyed that while everyone else’s child was sprinting into play mode, mine was having to sit on the side lines and take his vitamins.
Jake was finishing up when a little boy my middle son’s age rolled up in his wheelchair and placed his half-eaten breakfast on the picnic table next to us. His mom was rushing through the gate asking him over her shoulder, “Did you check your blood yet?” He looked up and answered matter-of-factly, “Yeah, I did it in the car.” A relaxed smile swept over her face, along with words of affirmation, and she didn’t skip a beat as she walked onto the field.
It was only our second game and I had seen her at the last game keeping score, answering parent questions, and huddling the kids up here and there for pictures. A few weeks later I even saw her umpiring a game! This mom knows her stuff and she is passionate about it.
Here’s something to wrap your brain around … this mother puts her heart and soul into a job and she doesn’t even have a son who is playing. Actually, her son cannot play because he is restricted to a wheelchair.
That morning I tried to imagine what that must be like for her … and then I put myself in her shoes. What would it be like for me to spend hours each day listening to children the same age as my own speaking brilliantly? Could I do it? Or would I be too wrapped up in the unfairness of it all?
It wasn’t just the mother that I admired from afar that day. I got to know the boy because he and I sparked up a conversation while Lil’ Man was running around high as a kite on vitamins. I was blown away at how well-spoken, mature, and witty he was. He casually shared that every Saturday and some week nights, he sits on the side lines and watches kids play football games for hours.
He watches his peers do something that his body unfairly prohibits him from doing. He loves a sport that he cannot participate in. What must that feel like? How does he handle it?
Actually, he makes it look pretty easy.
He confidently throws the football with the other kids at the field, he goes after balls that are thrown too short or too long, and he doesn’t want anyone to help him. He is easy-going and greets everyone with a big, kind smile. Most impressive though, is that he doesn’t have a sense of entitlement like most children his age do.
I love this quote by Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys …
I think every person has the ability to effect change … Every one of us affects the world constantly through our actions … through our every thought, our every word, the way that we interact with other people we’re constantly affecting the world.
A few days after I was enlightened at the ball field, one of my favorite bloggers wrote a post that really drove this point home with me. I’d like to share a few passages with you that Ashley Clark wrote at The Writers Alley:
We bring our own baggage to the table with everything we approach in life. Maybe your baggage isn’t heavy – maybe it’s a sparkly pink or has a Hawaiian print. On the other hand, maybe your baggage looks like it should’ve been retired fifty years ago and is threadbare, barely able to keep anything in. But wherever you’re going, you bring these things with you to the next stop.
Let me be clear – I am not saying I view Jake as baggage. However, all of the negative experiences surrounding my life with apraxia and food allergies has caused me to view many of the things in my life differently. In fact, my baggage has “apraxia + food allergies = “stressed out/sometimes angry mama” stamped all over it.
No, we cannot change the heart ache that apraxia has caused us, but we can change our attitudes and our disposition when we “arrive at the next stop.” I feel beyond blessed to have been running late that morning and that God allowed my path to cross with such a special young man.