They Always Had Nice Coats
We had a newborn son, as well as a two year old son. I was in a wheelchair. Looking back 20 years, I have trouble remembering how we did it. Raising children is the toughest job on the planet. Disable one parent, and the challenges multiply exponentially. I can remember days when I thought there was no way we could do it. In response, my mother always told me, “They will grow up anyway.” That holds true no matter what your challenges may be. Time marches on. Our sons are now 20 and 22. Fortunately, I recovered enough from the crippling stroke to be able to be a good mother. I re-learned how to walk, drive, cook and take care of myself. We were lucky to be able to afford hired help for the first four years of the newborn’s life. Yet, on many levels, I was not an active mother.
I watched videos last weekend from our sons’ early years. It seemed as if every moment of baby #1’s life was unique. Each move was well documented. This is common among new parents. Your first baby is the first one in the world to burp, poop, smile and laugh. I was physically fit for his first two years, and was seen carrying him, playing with him, and taking care of him.
Since I was six months pregnant with my second baby when I had the stroke, the scenes from his early life were mostly missing from the archive. It was not the same joyful, happy time after he was born. Much of the video footage consisted of my husband following the kids around with the camera while narrating the story. He was a good dad. They went on hikes, swam in the ocean, played in the snow, went ice skating on the lake at our place there, and fought physical battles like many brothers do. I wasn’t able to participate in any of this. There was limited footage of me reading Curious George books to them on the couch. Sometimes I was passing through the scenes limping along. I attended their school plays and musical performances.
I watched these movies with amazement at what a beautiful time my kids seemed to have. They looked happy most of the time. I couldn’t remember how we managed to dress them in such nice clothes. Where did we get the super nice, warm coats they wore with their mittens, hats and boots? Childhood passes in a blur no matter the circumstances. We were in survival mode for five years after our second baby was born. They grew up anyway.