I pulled up to the park where the 2nd graders were having their first field trip of the year. I had gotten out to take Nora gloves because it was much colder than I had anticipated and we had a really rough morning getting her out the door to school. This isn't unusual. Every day seems to be a battle between she and I, sending her away in tears and leaving me feeling helpless.
I approached the park and spotted my girl right away. She had her bright hat on and was with the other kids, running happily. But immediately my mommy-eyes looked past my girl, and landed directly on Jonah.
He was alone, by the tree. He was circling and crying.
Jonah is autistic.
And Jonah is one of my greatest friend's children. Which makes him feel like my child.
I felt the panic rush over me as I handed Nora her gloves and got quickly back into the van to call Becky. I wanted to run to him, wrap my arms around him, rescue him. But in that moment, after considering all of those quick-fix solutions, I simply walked away and made the call.
Her voice is quiet, as always and I hear her stern patience come through the line as she tells her other boy to get in the car, they're going to go check on Jonah.
She is always patient. She is always kind. She is always, always gentle.
God gave her those qualities and equipped her for this, of that I am sure.
He repeats words. He runs laps. He wishes and washes and rings his hands. He doesn't make much eye contact anymore. He gets easily frustrated. He makes sounds that come from somewhere inside that I am unaware of. And he does it constantly.
And she remains steady, still, patient, calm.
Today I cried for my friend.
When Jonah was diagnosed with Autism, and as the changes that were occurring in him became more obvious, I watched as Becky rose up to not only accept this term that would accompany Jonah's life but also advocate for him fiercly. I have listened as she speaks of meetings with teachers, meltdowns in the classroom and simple rewards that help with home structure. I have watched her bring a brand new baby girl into this world and walk through every day with an amount of grace that I give her far too little credit for. And I'm ashamed of that.
Mabel's diagnosis is terminal.
And in a way that is extremely sad and heartbreaking. But in another way, it brings me so much peace I cannot even begin to explain it. She isn't made for this world; she is made for Heaven and her mind, body and soul will get to rest there eternally until the day I meet her again, when God decides to take her from my arms.
But Jonah, and children like him?
They are here and they seem trapped. That seems so overwhelming for me as a mother. These moms have to prepare for a potentially long life of caregiving. I don't know how they do it but they are a different breed of women. They truly are.
And speaking of that, let me just tell you that the teachers don't understand the kind of bond that me and the women around me share. Not only the teachers, but other women. And men.
Basically no one understands it. But today when I saw that boy and my heart began to race, it was re-affirmed to me that God has so delicately placed them all around me for a purpose and me in their lives for the same.
We were made to raise these children together, this village and I.
It takes every one of us to get it right and I believe we are totally and truly doing that. I am proud and humbled at the friendships that I share with these mothers who are BRAVE, BEAUTIFUL, and RESILLIENT.
They are women who stand up for what they believe in, back down to no one, are firm when we know our gut is right, love other's children like our own and do it all day in and day out really, really well.
We have a system. We have a method. We love one another deeply.
And when it comes to these kids, no matter what, they absolutely come first. They are loved with a whole lot of power and I pray every single one of them not only knows it, hears it and believes it, but that they each FEEL it.
Becky went to the park. Jonah was cold and it was just too much.
And so she rescued him by going home to get what was needed to make it right. Because she knows him. When she returned, all was well.
She thanked me for calling her.
But she doesn't have to.
I did not birth these children. I do not care for them every single day.
But I love them and intend to always do so, like they are mine.
They will always know that, with me, they are safe and taken care of.
I will fight for them, every one of them.
Because they matter and they have purpose and they are amazing.
I looked in his eyes and I wanted to vomit.
I needed him to be ok.
I needed him to be ok.
I know, with intense certainty, that the women around me feel the same about every one of my children and that is why I have such a strong ability to be ok. Because I know that we will all be loved and taken care of at all times.
I am so proud of you and I don't say it enough. In fact, letting it go unsaid has been unfair of me. I know, in my mind, what you deal with every day. I hear the challenges and I see the exhaustion. But I have let it pass over me most days because I see you doing it all so well.
That's the point, I suppose, and I hope you hear me.
I SEE YOU.
I see you, friend.
And I may not be with you in the day to day tasks of your life but I know for certain that I was supposed to be there at that park today. At that exact moment, God reminded me that we are all fighting a battle here and we are to do it together. There is strength in our numbers. And I will always be here for you and with you. Always.
I love you.
And I love that boy.