I wrote a blog in January of this year entitled Footprints. I wrote about two young men, Tyler and Paul, who left footprints of blessing in Aaron’s life. Today I’ve once again been thinking about footprints, but in a different way than before. It all started this morning with Aaron saying, “Mom! Guess what woke me up at 5:30?” Since I could not guess what woke Aaron up, and since he barreled right ahead without really even giving me a chance to guess what woke him up, he continued. “Dad walking down the steps.”
“How did you know it was Dad walking down the steps?” I asked. Aaron quickly answered, “Because I know his footprints. His footprints are heavier than yours. Yours are lighter.” I smiled, thinking of how on another occasion Aaron had described Gary’s footsteps as being deeper than mine. Today he used the word “footprints” instead of “footsteps.” With both words, though, he talked about hearing our feet as we walked without even being able to see us. He recognized who was there without sight because he was so used to the sound of our steps.
I’ve thought about this today in relation to Aaron’s footsteps and therefore his footprints in our lives. Physically speaking, Aaron’s footsteps are very, very loud. He doesn’t usually just walk up the stairs, for instance. He thumps on each step with such force that he sounds like a huge animal going up the stairs. The same is true as he barrels down the stairs, and even as he crosses the floor. Clump, clump, clump! There is no mistaking that Aaron is on the move!
Often when we walk into Aaron’s room to tell him something, we’ll find him with his headphones on as he plays a computer game or watches a movie. He can hear us coming in, but he acts like he can’t. We’ll speak to him or touch his shoulder, and he’ll give a fake jump and then loudly say, “You scared me!” The other day I was downstairs on my computer when Aaron came home from his group. I heard him, of course, but as he came down the stairs to find me he decided to turn the tables and be the one to do the scaring. It was so funny to hear him trying very hard to come down the stairs as quietly as Aaron can be quiet………which isn’t very quiet at all. But I played along and didn’t turn as he came into the room where I was sitting with my back to him. He walked near my desk and then stopped, so I finally turned around and found him standing there with a huge grin on his face. “I was trying to scare you, Mom!” he exclaimed. “Did I scare you?” I told him that he did scare me and I faked being scared as much as Aaron fakes being scared and he was very happy to have scared Mom!
Emotionally, Aaron certainly leaves footprints in our lives that we hear loud and clear. One minute we’re laughing and the next we’re wanting to yell……….and sometimes do! This morning he was talking to me and he was so happy. Then I felt that little sting that he inflicts when he puts his middle finger behind his thumb and gives me a ping on my arm or my back. I fussed at him all the way up the stairs! And I know he’ll do it again at the first chance.
Sometimes Aaron’s footsteps are light, as he says that mine are. He can be funny and happy, showing us a view of life that we don’t see otherwise. He notices everything, like this morning when he talked about the three sprinkler tripods that Gary set up in the front yard to water some grass seed. “Mom, I see dad put sprinkler systems in the yard. There’s almost a lot of them.” I asked him how many sprinklers are “almost a lot” and he simply said, “Three.” He didn’t say it, but I do believe he was thinking that Mom was very slow today.
Or the day that there was a staging crew at the house for sale across the street from us. Aaron asked what they were doing and I told him they were staging the house to help it sell……..and I explained staging. Later he went out to the garage and told Gary, “Dad! There were scavengers in that house today!!” Gary came in laughing and Aaron was still wondering about scavengers.
His descriptions of things are amazing and unique and so funny. Talking about a hot air balloon as opposed to a blimp, he said, “You know a hot air balloon……..the one with the bag on top!” After listening to a song several times that I had played on a CD, he complained, “Mom, you got that song stuck in my head. I want it stuck OUT of my head!!” And describing the fact that his whiskers on his cheeks have grown some, he informed me, “Mom, the whiskers on the side of me have grown!”
Just as Aaron leaves footprints of frustration or footsteps of joy in our lives, he also leaves us at times with those deeper prints……….those times when we see his vulnerability and when we get a glimpse of his heart. When he tenderly puts his arm around my shoulder and lays his head against mine………for no reason but to want to be close for a few seconds. When he can’t speak after a seizure but looks at me with such trust and pleading in his eyes. When I look outside and see him sitting by the mulch, thinking his thoughts and processing his stories in his head. When he offers Andrea or Andrew a movie to take with them when they leave after a visit, or when he wants to buy them candy at the store when they are here. When he calls me from his day group, like he did today, and says with childlike joy, “Mom! I’ve been good today!” And certainly when he talks about Rosie, like this morning when he said, “Mom, Rosie likes me. What does it mean that she likes me?”
Sometimes Aaron’s footprints leave us heavy, as he described Gary’s prints. Heavy with guilt as we react angrily to him. Heavy with worry when he has seizures, or when we wonder about his future. Heavy with responsibility as we weigh medical decisions, weight loss, friendships or lack thereof, and many other issues. Heavy with tiredness at the end of a long day, when Aaron wants to play a game or wants help with getting every single wrinkle out of his bed or wants to ask about the weather one more time or tell me that he saw an ant in the sink……..and then thumps up the hall and knocks on the door one more time to tell me what the current outdoor temperature is. Really?
With the deep prints and the light prints of Aaron we learn more about him……….and we learn much more about ourselves. Some of what I learn about me isn’t so pleasant, and then at times what I learn is that I have grown a lot by having Aaron in my life. Some of his prints I see and some I only hear, but they all are a definite part of my heart and of who I am today. And I can hear him loud and clear, like when he was trying to quietly sneak down the stairs and scare me. He doesn’t even know that I can hear him all day long, but I can. In my heart I can hear him and I know his footprints in my life.
I pray that each step…….each print……..will make me a better mother to our special son.