Despite the drama that comes while looking for work and having both parents at home, things around our house have been feeling pretty “normal” lately and for me that’s not easy to say. I’ve looked at “normal” like it’s a bad word since Aleck was born, trying to wrap my brain around language that communicates the difference from our experiences raising a special needs child vs. our friends’ own struggles raising their “normal” or I like to say, “regular” children. So “regular” has been my choice word and has helped me during many discussions of what life is like in our household. Right now life has been better than regular, it really has been what I imagine normal life to be like. Maybe things are starting to shift, maybe we’ve gotten used to this non-stop on the go running like crazy people doctors doctors doctors type of lifestyle, but maybe, just maybe, Aleck is progressing so well and so quickly that he truly is approaching normal.
Earlier this week I took Aleck shopping for new shoes and instead of sticking him in the shopping cart I thought it would be nice to take the umbrella stroller. Aleck thought it would be nice if he got the chance to walk around the stores on his own two feet. This was one of the first times I’ve ever put Aleck down on his feet in a store and it was awesome. Before I knew it I found myself chasing after him as he exited shoes and went for chocolate (yup, my boy) and had to sit him down and have the store conversation. You know, the one that goes, “Aleck, now you have to stay where you can see me while we are in the store.” Seriously?!? AMAZING. I never, never, never, ever, ever, ever, thought I’d get to have this conversation and I know I’ll have it like a million times but right now it’s the best thing ever. It’s so incredibly normal. I looked like a normal mom chasing after their normal toddler, scolding them for being out of reach, but with the biggest smile on my face you can imagine.
We’re on such a roll that we are adding services to our abode, some part time help if you will. We now have our own, personal, toilet flusher living in our house. If anyone is going potty in this house, or anywhere else we might be, no need to worry about getting your hands on that dirty handle, Aleck is ready at the waiting to flush that toilet for you. How amazingly normal. Another activity I didn’t think we’d have to worry about. We never even close our toilets but looks like that’s about to change.
Last week we were at our friend’s house and their daughter, after scaling her bookcases, started in on their fridge grabbing all kinds of food right before we sat down for dinner. Craig starts laughing and goes into his usual rant about how we won’t have to deal with that, blah, blah, blah. And before I could stop him my girlfriend threw the best little fit ever. She started yelling (with a smile), “And you didn’t think he was going to stand up, and you didn’t think he was going to walk, and you didn’t think he was going to move his arms, and you didn’t think he was going to go to preschool. Well I have news for you buddy, he’s going to be in your fridge really soon. In fact, I think I’ll teach him how to open it for you.” The best part is how right she is about all of it. When I open our fridge Aleck is right there trying to grab at the vegetables, open the drawers, asking for a beer, all of that normal stuff that kids do when the fridge is open. And I’m pretty confident he’ll have that thing open all by himself before we know it.
But what might be the best, the absolutely most normal, most heart warming, most makes me almost cry every single time thing he’s been doing lately, is hugging. Of the things we mourned when we learned about Aleck’s condition, second to the walking, for me, was hugging. I’m a hugger. A major hugger. As a child I hated kisses and loved hugs and would sign my cards accordingly, few x’s, lots of o’s. So we designed our own type of hugging where Aleck just puts his head on your shoulder and that’s a hug, and it definitely didn’t suck. Lately, though, every night before I put him to bed he stretches really hard to reach his arms and get them up on my shoulders and then says, “Mommy hug” and we hug and we make the “uuuuaaaahhhh” hugging noise that my sister and I used to make when we were little, our Papa used to joke that we were farting. I can feel his fingers trying to be an active part of the hug, his arms feeling less and less like dead weights as each time he gets closer and closer to a true embrace. I don’t know if I can explain it unless you’ve had three years (and for many with AMC much longer) without it, no reaching out, no grabbing on, no feeling of the actual hug. When he faces me, when he gets those arms up on my shoulders, well, it’s one of the most normal feelings I didn’t realize how much I missed until I finally got it.