The car (ok, it’s a minivan) is the one place I am guaranteed to engage in reflective, heart clenching, and often swallow my pride conversations with my little people. In the minivan, none of us are distracted by the 1056 things that cause us to float to opposite ends of the house. This brings out thoughts and questions that otherwise pass and fade. I love that about our Honda Odyssey. She’s a real conversation starter that one. The most recent reflective Honda talk came from our son. From the 3rd row he asks, “Mom, how exactly have I changed your life?” I don’t know that the question itself was all that deep. If my daughter had asked it, I don’t know that I would have had to catch my breath in quite the same way. Most moms would likely smile and answer that question quickly with love and perhaps a deep breath or two. My 3rd row passenger, however, brought different life to that innocent question.
How do our kids change our lives? Maybe how DON’T they would be an easier question to field? Mom pants aren’t a product you can purchase. They can’t be pre-fabbed or marketed or given a product description in advance. They are a custom tailored experience. A one size fits one. They’re elastic for sure. Mom pants need room to stretch and bend and acclimate. No buttons or leather. Being a mom, no matter how your little blessings become yours, changes your world. Being a mom to a kiddo with special needs does more of a 180. It doesn’t just shift – it’s more like a tilt-a-whirl. Those carnival death traps make me vomit just thinking about them, so let’s remove the vomit from that analogy. When my little buddy asked that question, my mind did an internal tilt-a-whirl and I couldn’t find words quick enough to answer him before he asked it again.
Both our kids have “changed my life.” Their adoptions and the beauty and brokenness we will continue to experience have altered so much of our lives as parents. Truth is, our little boy has continued to alter my world in ways no one could have verbalized to me prior to his arrival on planet Earth. Our son has tilta-whirled who I am, how I respond to the world, the career path I plan on following, the friendships I crave and seek, the Google searches I make, the money we spend, the books I read, the organizations I lean toward, the topics I get fired up about, the prayers I utter, the social activities we choose, the doctors we rely on, the patience I strive for, my relationship with Tim, the goals I set….. he has acted as a catalyst for change that a typical child wouldn’t. This doesn’t dictate a comparison in my love for each of them. My girl is as scrumptious of a blessing as her big brother, but the tilt-a-whirl vs. ferris wheel analogy isn’t one they can quite understand yet.
How do I explain that to him? I don’t for now. For now I tell both of them that being a parent changes so many things in both wonderful, and really hard ways. I tell them that God’s plans for us are sometimes hidden until we become parents. Because being their parent isn’t a job we can go to school for or read a book about. It’s not a job we can go to each morning and leave until morning. It’s not a job we can turn off or take a break from. Being their mom has changed the way I think – about myself, about God, and about community. I can tell both of them those truths. And I can tell them that I adore them and thank God for the little change makers they are.