Milestones

As parents, we often tend to celebrate the obvious milestones in our kids’ lives. First steps, first words, first day of Kindergarten, last day of elementary school (sniff), driver’s license (don’t even go there). But as much as these moments are special, they aren’t the ones that I’ll look back on with the most appreciation.

Rather, I might look back to a day like today, when I was casually sitting on my couch writing an article about the Mary Todd Lincoln house. An email popped up from one of Thomas’ teachers, which read:

Your son did an amazing job on his flood presentation for the natural disaster unit. The whole class was chanting, “Flood, flood, flood!”.

Please convey to him again how proud and impressed I am with his ability to speak without making it sound boring and rehearsed, but entertaining and professional. He even paused for dramatic effect. It was wonderful.

I was so impressed at his speaking skills. This young man has really started to come into his own.

And I burst into tears. Tears of tremendous JOY. Because although I am more than used to seeing visual proof, via test scores and report cards, that my son is intelligent; I rarely have tangible proof of what I know to be true: that he is more amazing than any number can measure.

He’s witty, has a remarkable sense of humor, shares some of my own brand of sarcasm and has a very real sense of who he is and what he wants to bring to this world. But he also struggles with daily tics, anxiety and o.c.d., which make it all the more difficult for him to stand in front of a class and give a presentation. He did that today, and he let his personality shine through. I can’t wait to see the video!

This moment follows very closely on another one, which also had me crying tears of happiness on Tuesday. You wouldn’t think it would be anything to celebrate, but Monday when I picked up Thomas at the bus stop he was making plans with a group of friends. For years this child has avoided parties or groups of any kind and yet he was casually making plans to meet friends for a bike ride. Some of the other mothers were worried that maybe they would get into trouble in a group. I was ecstatic!

My son is making plans to be with a group of friends!  I wanted to shout if from the front porch; make it my Facebook update, tweet it, etc. I didn’t care if they burned down the neighborhood clubhouse (ok, I did), as long as he enjoyed this experience.

In years to come, I know I’ll look back on this Spring and remember that it was the time my oldest child grew to be the same height as I am; the time that we watched proudly our middle child graduated from the elementary school he loves; the time our youngest danced up a level in ballet and tried on her first Catholic school uniform.

But along with those milestones, I’ll remember the way my oldest baby came into his own; the way his personality–which I see all the time, but is sometimes hidden away from others–was able to really shine through; and the way these seemingly ordinary moments warmed my heart.

Celebratory Thomas, 2005

Celebratory Thomas, 2005

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