No mother can ever forget the birth of their babies, each one so unique and completely amazing. That first baby, though, holds a very tender place in a mother’s heart. Our first baby was Aaron. He wasn’t loved more than our other two children, but that first birthing experience was one of a mixture of fear and uncertainty that culminated in total wonder at the little squalling miracle lying in my arms.
A son!! I remember a feeling washing over me that I had never experienced before. Total love. I knew that certainly no other woman could have ever felt as blessed and…well…as special as I did in those new moments of motherhood. I know now that this wasn’t true, but you could never have convinced me otherwise during those first fresh days of holding my little son.
I examined him from the top of his fuzzy head to the very bottom of his wrinkled toes. Every detail was so perfect. He was so tiny and complete…wispy eyelashes, button nose, tee tiny little fingernails and toenails…just every single part was truly a work of art from God.
Lots of years have passed since my first introduction to motherhood in that old wooden WWII hospital at Fort Carson, Colorado. So many details of Aaron’s future, unknown to us back in 1984, have woven themselves into our own future now. Never, ever did we dream that our Aaron would continue to be defined as “special,” but now in the sense that we often call “Special Needs.”
Sometimes I still shake my head in disbelief at that title.
Yet there is no denying the reality of this path upon which God set our steps. Aaron’s first seizure in Germany at the age of seven led us to a diagnosis of Epilepsy. Seizures have never been out of the picture since that time other than for brief periods of reprieve.
Then later, at the age of 14, came the surprising diagnosis of autism…Asperger’s Syndrome. This wasn’t a common condition at that time. I didn’t even know what Asperger’s was. But we’ve all learned along with Aaron just what it means to live with what we call “Special Needs.”
It’s very interesting to look up this word “special.” It’s a word that we so routinely use that we don’t give it much thought. So, I did just that…I looked up this special word in the dictionary…and I was touched by just what it means to be special. Especially what it means to Aaron, and so to us as well.
SPECIAL: Distinguished by some unusual quality.
Our family would laugh at this one, not because we’re cruel but because Aaron has LOTS of unusual qualities. Many days I wish it was only one. Some are funny; some are annoying; some he repeats over and over; some are loud; some are very embarrassing….
SPECIAL: Readily distinguishable from others of the same category.
Well, that’s one way to put it. He’s very readily distinguishable when he stops in the crosswalk at Wal-Mart and holds his arms up just to be sure that traffic knows to stop! He’s totally distinguishable when I remind him to look UP as we leave the store and enter said crosswalk again so that he looks for traffic and not at his feet…and he stops in the middle of the crosswalk and looks up at the SKY!!
He’s also very likely to hover at the door of the nail salon like a stalker, watching the women getting their manis and pedis…fascinated by the smells and the sounds…but a little alarming as he curiously stares.
He whistles…he claps…he sings. Or he stands in the little restaurant in the Wal-Mart entrance and delights in the fact that the attendant thinks he wants to order.
SPECIAL: Being other than the usual.
Usual is so boring to Aaron. Some days I wish for boring. But Aaron does add a spark to life on most days. Sometimes a raging fire, honestly. Like Gary and I envisioned Friday evening in Cracker Barrel when Aaron decided to take the globe off the oil lamp…that was lit…with real fire. All was well. Nothing to see here, people at the table beside us. Move on.
But there is also one more meaning to this word…this special word. And this meaning is by far my very favorite.
SPECIAL: Designed for a particular purpose.
You see, Aaron was indeed designed by God, just as much as all the other babies ever conceived. He was designed for a particular purpose. I don’t always live in that reality, especially on the hard days. But I know deep in my heart that God made no mistakes with Aaron. God’s sovereign hand made Aaron just the way he is. It’s up to me to live in that knowledge, especially when I’m tired or upset or discouraged or embarrassed.
Honestly, one of the huge purposes that I’ve seen Aaron have in my life is to remind me of how much I need God. How much I need His love and forgiveness and patience and strength. How when I am weak, then God is strong FOR me and IN me.
Aaron reminds me to give:
Aaron reminds me to love:
Aaron reminds me to laugh:
Aaron reminds me to enjoy life:
Aaron reminds me to keep going when things are tough:
And God reminds me of these truths:
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret;
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)