By Cathy Jameson
While anticipating the birth of my first child, someone told me that new moms shouldn't worry while pregnant. It isn’t healthy for the pregnancy or for the baby. As long as the baby has ten little fingers and ten little toes, that's all a new Mom should worry about.
…ten little fingers
ten little toes
a new one to love
with a small button nose
skin that’s soft, pink and new
love so strong
from me to you…
Ten little fingers, ten little toes. It sounds so simple, so pure an so peaceful. As a first-time mother, that’s all I thought to hope for.
I don't think anyone can fully prepare themselves for where motherhood will take them. Not until they are fully immersed in that role will they understand it or appreciate it. My journey as a mother has morphed greatly and goes far beyond what my imagination could ever reveal. From expecting them to being able to hold each my children in my arms after their births, I never knew how having children would change me. All of my children, especially Ronan with all of his severe needs, helped me mature and evolve into the mom I am today. Worries have come and gone, but the love I have for my children has only grown stronger.
The thoughts and hopes that I had as a new mother are quite different than the ones I cling to now. They have nothing to do with having ten fingers and toes and certainly don’t compare to complicated issues that cross my mind now. Before Ronan got sick, I had limited knowledge of chronic diseases and how childhood ailments can take a turn for the worse. I never knew about life-altering reactions from medicine or the complexities of an autism diagnosis. Now, though, when those subjects bombard my thoughts, I can’t help but be reminded of every concern I have for Ronan and for his future. I question things that I may never find the answer to. I wonder if Ronan will ever speak again. I worry about his safety and his health. I contemplate how I managed his needs. I examine my strengths and weaknesses and how they will affect Ronan and his future. I face my fears in my thoughts. I pray for strength to handle it all. I do as much as I can always hoping it’s enough.
Motherhood. It’s more than making sure fingers and toes are in the right spots. It’s hoping, wishing and praying for happiness and success. Not just for me, but for my kids. Right now, my children, including Ronan, are on that path. They will all live a fulfilled life according to their abilities, their personalities and what opportunities they grab. Ronan will need the most help. He still has a long way before he can truly catch up to what his siblings will get to do. But it’s rewarding watching him attempt to keep up. It’s also gratifying to know that I had a hand in getting him heading in the right direction.
On such a special day, one dedicated to all mothers, I would love to leave all my worries behind. Instead of worries, I would hope instead to be filled with wishes. Wishes that all of our children be given the gifts they need to be successful, fully functioning and one day independent. I would love it if Ronan could really catch up to where his siblings are. I would wish that he could be capable of speaking again. I’d wish him to return to typical development so that his struggles are no more. It’s a lot to wish for, but I’ve heard that some wishes come true. Holding Ronan hand, with his fingers interwoven in mine, I’m hanging onto hope that those wishes will come true.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.