My life with Matt has been far from boring. I’ve taken you through my pregnancy and his birth. But now we’re talking 12 full years of stories and craziness. I started to write it, but in all actuality I could make a novel out of all of our adventures. And his story is just beginning. I’m going to do my best to sum up for you folks my life thus far with Matthew without losing anything, though.
If you recall, Matt was born just before my 21st birthday. I was still a kid, and I was starting a new life. Essentially, Matt and I grew up together. Yes, he’s literally a kid and technically I was/am an adult. But had it not been for him I don’t know that I ever would have gotten my shit together. Because of him I pushed myself every moment of every day to be a better person. Because it was not that little boys fault that he was born to someone so unprepared and had so little to offer.
So I learned how to adult and how to parent, with a lot of advice and a lot of reading and eventually trusting my own instincts. We dealt with colic and croup and insatiable hunger and lactose intolerance and multiple weird random skin rashes. Ear infections and allergies and asthma. He almost choked to death on a pretzel once, and for awhile there any time he would be reprimanded he would cry until he literally passed out. Not to mention, he has a geographical tongue – meaning it’s got weird bumpy lines on it that scared the shit out of me before I knew what was going on. He got warts that had to be burned off with some sort of frog venom – sounds witch doctor, actually legit happened.
I have story after story after story with this kid. He became my shadow and my mini me. We went through a year of behavior issues and he ended up being diagnosed with ADHD and ODD. During that time we saw 3 doctors, he got kicked out or asked to leave by two daycares and suspended in kindergarten from school because of his violent and random antics. I knew from the beginning that he was a smart child. He talked early, showed understanding and maturity beyond his years, and even with his learning and behavior disorders he still excelled. And once we got those things under control, there’s been no stopping him.
I could break down each health scare and tell you about every time my heart stopped, every tear I shed, every sleepless night, every time I called on my dad or my Mamaw or Matt’s grandma ready to lose my shit because of his behavior or because I was lost as to what to do about a specific situation. I could tell you every doctors visit, every time I had to sit down with this smart little kid and explain to him the why’s and how’s of what was going on with him and the world. I could also tell you some of the most heart warming stories you’ve ever heard, that will give you hope for this up and coming generation. I am blessed with an amazing, resilient, head strong child that I have the utmost faith in. My Matthew makes me laugh and gives me hope every single day while simultaneously making me want to rip my hair out.
And so here we are. After colic and croup and asthma and allergies. After a geographical tongue and 3 black eyes, after crazy warts and a splinter that caused an infection. After 13 ear infections and two sets of tubes, after sitting up with him multiple nights easing his fears about Ebola and tornados and algae bloom. After adding a baby brother to the confusion. After explaining to him that brains don’t just explode without warning signs and looking up those warning signs so I could give him facts and not just hypotheses. After meeting after meeting with teachers and principals and administrators and psychologists and doctors to try and figure out how his brain was wired so we could get him on track to being the best Matthew he could be. After 20 hours of labor just so he could be cut out of me. After endless phone conversations with adultier adults that could help me parent this crazy smart child of mine, here we are, facing one of the worst things a parent can face. My child may be gravely ill.
And he was just sitting there playing on his phone, acting as though today was just another day. And I was replaying all of the last 13 years in my head and trying not to pace the floor and good God I needed a cigarette and a drink and a hug and someone to hold my hand because holy fuck was I scared.
I sat watching the people coming in and going out of the hospital. New mom’s and some elderly. Some happy and some looking sad or worried or rushed. I knew what was going on in my world, and wondered about theirs. What was their story?
Matt held the pager and kept looking at it as if it was gonna jump up and scamper off. “How will I know when it goes off?” He asked. “Oh, you’ll know,” I replied laughing. How many times had I held one, waiting to be called back for him or for me while I was pregnant with him? And every single time it scares the daylights out of you.
I can’t describe that wait any better. Watching people, watching him, praying to whatever God would listen and asking my dad and my mom to do whatever it is that parent angels do to protect their grandson. . . I called on anyone and everyone to make this okay, make this what I thought and hoped it would be, crazy hormones in a crazy kid.
And then the beeper went off and Matt jumped out of his skin, and then stood up and looked at me with uncertainty in his eyes. And instead of grabbing his hand to hold it and embarrassing him I touseled his hair and guided him to the desk to check in.
And we walked down corridors and into the room where they make sure they have all of your information right. Which after this long and however many visits he has had, that part was a breeze. And then we were in a room and he was asked to lay down and lift his shirt. Again the uncertain look towards me. “Its cool, kid.” And he lifted his shirt up. The tech explained what she was going to do, and I explained what the gel was for and that it would be cold and feel gross. Lucky for him they had a warmer, so it wasn’t too bad for him. She took her ultrasounds and left the room with them so they could be read. And we waited some more. We talked and joked and I promised him McDonald’s after we left. He really had been a good sport through all of this.
I have drug this story out over four parts and roughly a months time for you all, and I greatly appreciate your patience and encouragement. This day was not an easy day for me, and writing about it provided a relief and made me remember to be grateful for the time we have with our children. You never get these times back – the good, the bad, the ugly. Your life and your child’s life could change in the blink of an eye. They may go to school and never come home. These times we live in are horrific. And truthfully, they are only 1 or 5 or 12 once. Make it worthwhile.
The end of this is very anticlimactic, which honestly while it doesn’t make for a good story, I am so grateful for this anticlimactic ending .
Matthew is fine.
It was just as I knew, hormones in over drive. We were instructed to keep an eye on it, but it was definitely nothing to worry about. We left, got McDonald’s, I dropped him off at home with his grandma, and went back to work.
But he might not have been fine. All of his crazy ailments could have been preparing me for a much scarier situation than this. More than a half a day in doctors offices trying to find a reason. He could be a very sick boy. But instead, he is his annoying, smart mouthed self.
And I’m grateful that we have many more adventures ahead of us.
I learned something that day. Something I’ve always known, but was reiterated to me in the most dramatic of ways. Just because he is my child does not make him have immunity to real life. He could get cancer. He could get badly injured. He could die in a car accident.
So I am thankful for anticlimatic endings.
Hug your child and be grateful for what you have. Tomorrow is not promised.