Blog:  My Parent Journey

How I Make the Most of Every Happy Moment

My Parent Journey blog post by Beth Golden
Mar 18, 2015

Mother and her two sons enjoying time together in a park

Having kids is a pretty optimistic endeavor. It hinges on the hopes for and the promise of what’s ahead.

We wonder when our babies will say their first words and take their first steps. We muse about the kind of students they’ll be, the careers they’ll build and the families they’ll someday have.

As the mom of two teens with lifelong challenges, I’ve come to see the future with different eyes. For me, it’s not a familiar place full of possibilities for the children I love. It’s a wilderness where everything is more complicated. Nothing can be assumed.

My oldest son’s nonverbal learning disability has had a huge impact on his life. It’s also changed my husband’s and my expectations. To our delighted surprise, our son has thrived academically. But social rites of passage that we at one time assumed would be Adam’s—sleepaway camp, senior prom, driving a car and first dates—didn’t happen and may never.

Our younger son, Jack, has all of the social charms and street savvy that Adam does not. But Jack’s reality is shaped by the unpredictability of his chronic illness. I used to ask his doctors if his disease would worsen this year, this decade or this lifetime. All they could tell me was, “stay positive.”

That can be a tall order when I look toward both my sons’ futures. If you have a child with a learning or attention issue or an illness, you know how endless and scary the list of “what ifs” can be.

That’s why I’ve pretty much stopped obsessing about tomorrow. And I do my level best to focus on the only thing that’s certain: what’s happening today.

That means that when Adam is showing signs of depression or Jack’s under the weather, I’m right there with them, providing the support and love they need. Not lost in my worries about where their problem may lead.

More often, though, letting go of tomorrow has allowed me to truly appreciate what’s good. Right now. In this very moment—whether it’s a chatty Skype session with Adam from college, or a day when Jack’s biggest complaint is about having too much homework—I enjoy it.

When friends ask how the kids are, I say, “Today, they’re doing fine.” And I don’t knock on wood or cross my fingers. I say these words with joy. I savor them like they’re the sweetest nectar on earth. And I seize the moment with all the strength I can muster.

I’d never say that I’m glad my children have the challenges that they do. But I know that I’m a wiser, more empathic and more accepting person because of those challenges.

I’ve also been given the gift of knowing and loving my children for who they are right now and the wisdom to make the most of every happy moment.

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About the Blogger

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Beth Golden is a New York–based health and parenting journalist who has contributed to numerous print and online publications.

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