I worry about my son because that’s what moms do.
But my worries extend beyond the usual parenting worries. I worry about how my son is being impacted and affected by my invisible disability.
I struggle each day with being honest about my levels of pain and fatigue, because I also don’t want to shortchange Ryan or frighten him in any way. It’s not his fault that I hurt. But “this” (my medical condition) is a part of our life. And most likely always will be.
Ryan often reaches out a hand to help me when he sees me struggling to stand up. He knows, and has known for years, about the bottles of medication on the kitchen counter. In fact, when he was just a toddler he popped a small piece of cucumber in his mouth and chewed and swallowed it with a glass of milk, telling me he was taking his medicine just like mommy. It broke my heart.
But I’d like to think that my son is also being raised to look at people with increased levels of compassion, patience, and acceptance. I hope that my struggles show Ryan that all people struggle with something, even if it isn’t initially apparent. At the same time, I hope I’m also teaching Ryan resilience and tenacity, and that there are many different ways of demonstrating bravery, courage, and strength.
Still I worry.
And then my son will do something that will totally blow me away, will fill my heart with love and pride. And I’ll breathe a little easier, knowing that Ryan is alright; in fact, that he’s more than alright.
When Ryan was a little guy, we would often sing along to songs on my computer, using kitchen utensils as “microphones.” We still sing all the time. In the car, in the house, in the market. But for the last month or so, Ryan and I have again been regularly performing one of our favorite duets, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” I love that it’s still fun for my almost-11-year-old to sing with his mom. And I love that this is one of our favorite songs to sing together.
Because really that is the message I want Ryan to grow up learning. That we are a family. We’re in this together.
“If you need me, call me
No matter where you are
No matter how far don’t worry, baby
Just call my name
I’ll be there in a hurry
You don’t have to worry
‘Cause baby there
Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you, babe.”
And, if you haven’t seen the 1998 film Stepmom with Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts, click here to see a fun scene featuring a family sing-along of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”