Recently I attended a school basketball tournament with my oldest that was an hours drive out of town.
As I sat on the rock hard bleachers, alone, and in an unfamiliar city, my body became stiff, and my back began to ache. With my behind cold and slowly numbing on the concrete, and undeniable urge to cry suddenly hit me.
At first, I was unsure why. Could I be so uncomfortable I meant to break down in front of complete strangers? No doubt I had suffered worse pain than this.
Why should I be fighting tears when I was merely watching a ball game? As I blinked back the tears and tried to focus on the match, I thought harder about why the tears were there in the first place.
It didn’t take me long to realize that they were tears of joy. My heart became so overwhelmed with love seeing this young man dart up and down the court that it left me breathless.
It felt as if this one moment was the reward for years of struggle. All the worry and self-doubt I had suffered were finally paying off.
You see my son possesses a mild case of Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is a broad umbrella term that encompasses any and all injury or insult to the brain.
His actual diagnosis is full of long and complicated words, but ultimately the right side of his body does not function as it should. Explained simply, this is as if that side of his body had been in a cast for a long time and he must now train it to work properly.
I knew from the time he was merely a few months old that his life would be challenging. We had gone more than a year before we knew the cause of the problems. He had suffered a neonatal stroke which caused his fine motor skills to be substantially impaired.
We had seen an endless amount of doctors and specialists at out of town appointments. He has had multiple splints and braces throughout his short life and has undergone major surgery.
I spent hours researching and debating before making any choice regarding the care he received. I recalled countless nights spent lying awake wondering if I truly had made the right decisions.
And you would never know it to look at him. He is such a happy and easygoing child. He has worked hard his whole life to be where he is, refusing to be left behind. Never has he gave up, and he gives everything he does 110%.
The last two years he has been on the school basketball team. This year he made the school soccer team. He also intends to try out for the travel teams.
He has grown into a well-adjusted preteen who is surrounded by friends and family who love him. He can do everything a boy his age can do, even if it sometimes takes longer, or looks different from how you or I would do it.
Once I figured out the reason behind my tears I was not afraid to show them. I beamed with pride at the sight of my not so little boy running and dribbling down the court like a pro, and I didn’t care who saw me.
Gone are the days of standing at his bedside rocking him until he fell asleep, the days of kissing his boo-boos and chasing away monsters. Gone are the days when I was his best friend.
And so, I continued to sit on the cold hard concrete letting the tears flow free. I hooted and hollered and cheered him on with every turn. My heart threatened to burst from my chest with feelings of joy and all the times I questioned if I was making the right calls were forgotten.
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