04 December 2011

the button

There's a quote by Norman Vincent Peale that I particularly like this time of year.

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.

I was putting Emma's pajamas on tonight after her bath -- a task she's started to really help with recently. Pants? Those are her responsibility. I lay them in front of her, and she takes it from there. Tonight's PJs had a top that buttons, so I stepped in after she pulled her arms through the sleeves.

I buttoned the first three buttons, and then Em's hands slipped past mine to grasp both sides of the shirt. Her little fingers positioned themselves on the button while the other hand found the opening. 

I sat still in front of her, afraid to move and distract her focus. I kept my hands in my lap as hers worked. And it was work she was doing, as her eyes followed her fingers and she coordinated her motions. There was effort. There was concentration. 

And then there was a button sliding through its hole. There was success. And I pulled her into my arms, tears forming, celebrating the moment.


Several weeks ago, I sat in a room with other moms like me, while our children played in a gym and swim program designed just for them. We introduced ourselves and we talked about the beloved kiddos that had brought us there. And then we each shared the most important thing we've learned since we became the parent of a child with special needs.

I had so much to say; we all did. All of it's important. But the thought that formed first is the reason for this post.

I told those other moms that I have learned to savor every step forward. That there's no such thing as a small step, because no steps are guaranteed. I don't take Emma's progress for granted. I get excited about the fact that we drive by golden arches and a tiny voice pipes "McDonald's?" from the backseat, because it's a word. It's a choice. It's communication. And it is no small step.

So I cry happy tears when my girl buttons a button on her own for the first time. I write it down, because I want to remember how this felt. All the insignificant details-- that she was wearing her penguin pajamas, her hair was drying into tendrils around her face and that she grinned so hugely when I hugged her. 

Emma buttoned a button. That would be beautiful to me even if it wasn't Christmastime. 

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