I love holidays.
As a child, I would have countdown calendars, I would beg my mom to put out the decorations weeks and weeks ahead.
I would be giddy with excitement and riddled with anticipation for the month prior.
Will the Easter Bunny come? How many eggs will I find? What songs will we sing at church on Christmas Eve? What time am I allowed to be up Christmas morning?
During pregnancy and in the early years with parenthood, I continued to be excited at the prospect of including our children in our traditions. Our family meals, board games, gift opening, egg hunts, the list goes on.
Unfortunately, I still have a fondness for holidays but I no longer am riddled with excitement for weeks prior.
Instead, I find myself dreading the family meals, worrying about gift time, anxious about family gatherings.
Holidays are a time where I find myself seeing the diagnosis instead of seeing my son.
A time where he is surrounded by cousins, children who are the same age or younger, and they are doing and saying things far beyond his development. It used to upset me more because it would be hard for ME to handle but I always thought Evan was doing fine with it. He would play with the electronic toys, happily flitting from one to the next, not worrying about his family members, happy to play and do his own thing.
But that has changed.
It seems now Evan is more aware of his environment. More aware of his “sticking out.”
Not in the same way that I might feel like I don’t fit into a group. More that he does not understand why everyone is running around playing pretend games. He doesn’t understand why we seem so adamant that he do an egg hunt. I can just see in his eyes the thought, “Why are mommy and daddy so upset that I don’t want to do this? What is the big deal? I just want to play with the toys that are easy and fun for me. They make me happy. Let me be happy.”
Damn it. That is HARD.
Choosing when to include your child because you think it is important for him, or is it because it is important for YOU?
Because of Evan’s delayed speech development, we don’t always know what he is thinking or feeling. He didn’t say he didn’t want to do the egg hunt. He just kept making a bee line for the door and requesting to go back in the house. But later on at the party, I knew exactly what he was thinking and feeling. I caught his gaze from across the room. He was playing with some electronic toy and staring off into space and I could see it written all over his face. He was exhausted and tired from the noise, the rapid movements, the conversations all around him that he didn’t feel he could or should be a part of. I went over to him, sat down next to him and he crawled into my lap, “Cuddle you, mommy.”
My heart sank but I also felt this strange relief.
Relief because he told me what he needed. He needed comfort, closeness, a sense of familiarity in a dynamic environment that overwhelmed him.
Once again, through a difficult situation, a little light shines.
“There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” -Leonard Cohen
Holidays will continue to be tough sometimes.
Holidays will continue to have joy sometimes.
Thank goodness for cracks.
Thank goodness for cuddles.