I watched him from across the room. He was wearing his perfect, un-walked in, black converse. He basically wore them for decoration, but they also kept his ankles steady during physical therapy when he practiced putting weight on his feet. He leaned up with his hands against the large red exercise ball and proudly “stood” on his chemo, weak froggy legs. I was so incredibly proud and clapped and cheered for Hayes, recognizing that he was doing something harder than I have ever done myself. Reese and Heath walked into the playroom and clapped along with me, not knowing the reason for the show of excitement. Heath walked over to the exercise ball and slapped it with his little hands and Hayes laughed. He was participating in play time with his triplet brother and sister and we were all overjoyed. He was making up for lost time and I was so happy. I had dreamed of this forever.
I remember, I was quickly pulled down from that excitement when the physical therapist explained that Hayes wasn’t progressing as quickly as she would like to see. She told me that she thought Hayes was going to need a walker. She was hopeful that he would respond well to the challenge, but it broke my heart. She told me that within the next month or so, Hayes would need to be fitted for his walker. My sweet boy was cancer free so why did it feel like life wasn’t catching up to the news of normalcy? I decided I didn’t want to believe her and so I shut it away to the back of my mind.
Every so often, my mind would drift to the worry. What if Hayes never knew how to walk? What if he never ate food like all of the other kids? What if he never got to participate in regular childhood activities? Sometimes these worries would consume me to the point of tears. I would get so frustrated for him. I would always have to remind myself of the incredible blessing that Hayes had with built in best friends. Regardless of the circumstances of his physical abilities, Heath and Reese were always going to accept him and love him as he was. Reese was a built in little mom and Heath was a bulldog. He was going to be fine. He would always be protected.
Looking back on that anxiety, I realize how completely ridiculous those worries were. I would give anything to see him grow now. I realize that none of those physical setbacks mattered…he was here! Who cares if he was going to spend his childhood in a walker, or eat through a feeding tube? In hindsight, it obviously didn’t matter. But, it is easy to get hung up on those fears, the worries that those dreams we envision for our children won’t come to fruition. Stepping back and seeing the bigger picture, now I am able to appreciate that Hayes was enough exactly as he was.
It is a reminder to me that my job as a mother is to encourage my children and help them to realize that no matter what they accomplish in life, they are enough. My job is to teach them to be proudly aunthentic. They are my greatest gifts. I hope Hayes knows this. I hope he knows how proud I am of him, how lucky I am to be his mom. I hope he knows that every accomplishment he made in his short life was enough. He is and always will be the strongest person I know.