Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Dream and Wave Bye-Bye

As I walked out the door of Sunshine and Princess triplets' bedroom, Sunshine did her typical closing of the day statements.

Sunshine: "Good night, Mommy"
Me: "Good night"
Sunshine: "Happy Dream"
Me: "Happy Dream"

Sunshine repeats these closing statements again and again as you walk out the door, all the way until the door clicks shut for the night. We think it's partially because she has to have the last word in everything. It's a ritual she began a few months ago. And, every night I still hold my breath, waiting and hoping.

Princess triplet on her first day of school 2012-13
You see, once, out of the blue, as I was saying good night and only expecting a response back from Sunshine triplet, I heard a second "Happy Dream" from Princess triplet's bed. My mostly non-verbal child was wishing me a happy night just like her sister. Of course, I rushed back into the room, kissed Princess all over again and insisted that she too have a happy dream of her own.

It seems a small event, and yet, to any mother of a child with speech or milestone delays, a moment like that makes your throat catch and brings tears to your eyes. It's not just the moment in itself, it's the uncertainty of whether the moment will repeat itself at all or with any regularity. It's a moment you simply may not get again. It's a moment to treasure.

Angel triplet loves riding the bus but hates photo shoots
Every school day I stand by the bus as Princess and Angel triplets get buckled into their seats. I wait and I wave, every single day. When Grandma is there she watches me and says something like, "Do they see you?" or "I don't think they care about waving today" and I never answer those statements. I wave goodbye every day until the bus turns left and they can't see me waving.

Triplets wear "I'm the Litttle Sister" shirts to school.
Have my two autistic daughters ever waved goodbye back? No, not yet, but I still keep waving, because I'm mom and that's what moms do. They wave bye-bye to kids who stare back, sometimes without seeming recognition. Because one day, they will wave back, one day, bye-bye will be part of their social world. Or, because one day there will be another moment, like when Angel triplet looked directly into my eyes with recognition and pushed her tiny hand against the bus window as I waved. She kept her hand on the window until the bus turned left and I couldn't see her anymore. So, yes, I wave. I wave every day.

Today's post is my Mother's Day gift to all mothers of children with milestone delays or delayed development. We strive every day to teach our children, to presume competence, to hold our expectations high enough, to embrace our child's differences and yet carefully recognize the fact that it could take up to 2000 repetitions for our child with special needs to learn something that a typical child will likely learn by 200 repetitions. We balance expectations every day - not too low, not too high and realize that in addition to being mom, we get to play therapist to our very special children. Sometimes there are those days when we'd give almost anything to just be a parent, a simple, run-of-the-mill parent with "typical" expectations. The one whose kid says "You're not my best friend anymore, Mommy" on the day right before Mother's Day - the typical kid stuff - the stuff that makes you smile. Then without warning, we get a moment. A "Happy Dream" moment, a "Wave Bye-Bye" moment and all of a sudden nothing else matters but that moment. That moment when you absolutely, positively know how lucky you are to have this special child who shows you what LIFE and LOVE and JOY really are, because before that moment you know for sure you've only seen a shadow of those things.
Lotte - still too cool for school :-)

Happy Mother's Day to my fellow "special needs" Mamas. I hope you have a moment tomorrow with your very special child, but even if you don't, think back to a recent one and look forward to the one you will have in the future. You are LOVED and there's no doubt in my mind that God made you and your child especially just for each other - no other mother would do, no other child would do. You are perfectly suited for each other and tomorrow, please breathe that knowledge in all day long.

Happy Mother's Day All!


  1. Beautifully written Lisa! Thanks for the gift!

    1. Thanks, Susan and you're welcome. Happy Mother's Day!