Who knew that I could ever be over the moon with excitement over something as mundane as pushing my son in the car cart at the grocery store on a crowded day? He didn’t understand why I mostly shopped alone or why we had to use the regular carts with his cart cover on the rare occasion he went with me to the grocery store in the past few months. You can’t explain to a toddler how lurking germs have to be avoided as a precaution before and after open heart surgery. How could it be that our visit to the library today and lunch with a friend tomorrow could make my heart soar?
In the months before and weeks after Charlie’s surgery, when we were confined and limited, my eyes opened to a lot of basic truths about life. First, even on a bad day, there’s A LOT to appreciate. Second, happiness is what it is. It’s not something to achieve or obtain. It’s a mindset. I’m learning that happiness blossoms best when Its watered with simplistic thoughts and planted in a grounded existence. What’s money when it costs time? What’s self sufficiency when it brews pride? Everything has a trade off. I’ll take the most humble and kind approach to everything and anything. There is nothing to “achieve” at the moment as we take time to just “be”, and I want nothing more than to savor the basics.
The simple things that fill my mind and capture my soul? The blissful moments that beautify my life? Most derive from my son, and here, you’ll see joy in the form of a little boy:
Simple Thing #1: Charlie’s Hands
In His hand is the life of every creature, and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:10
My son’s fingernail beds are pink! The blue hue is gone, and they no longer say “My organs aren’t getting enough at 65% oxygen. My lungs are not functioning because of inadequate blood flow.” Instead, his sweet little paws now boast a happy truth, “I can play normally. Smile, mommy. Today, you don’t have to worry about lung and heart failure .” It never did matter before, but now when my son’s hands are a mess, I could especially not care less. I see a lovely existence and even avoid wiping them too quickly. Hands sticky from snow cones and nails caked with dirt show that we had fun today. With a pink backdrop to layers of muck and grime, his hands remind me that some children are in the hospital and are unable to play outside. Not so long ago, my son belonged in that group too. So, I hold his hands and high five them before removing the physical reminder of our shenanigans as I marvel at something so simple yet so amazing.
Simple Thing #2: Diaper Crinkling
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10
You know the sound coming from a toddler’s tush as the diaper crinkles? I love that sound. When I hear it, I know Charlie is on the move. I don’t want to keep harping on the past, but when movement for my son was slow(ish), cumbersome, and painful, I celebrated each step. Now I’m rejoicing. His energy level has skyrocketed since his surgery took place six weeks ago, and nothing could sound better than hearing his feet pitter patter as a he runs, jumps, dances and climbs. It really is a most beautiful symphony.
Simple Thing #3: Sleep
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
I’ve always been a morning person, but after becoming a mom, I became a night person too. Caring for a tiny treasure demands this of us all. I remember thinking if only I could stay awake 24/7…if only I could watch my son around the clock…if only he didn’t have CHD…if only I could trust we would make it through the night. Until recently, my fear fueled my energy level. I continue to have trouble sleeping and still find rest a worthy pursuit. But now, when I close my eyes, they stay shut for longer stretches as my fear subsides and peace takes its place. Now, I wake up smiling, content in trusting my son is doing just fine nestled in his bed. Charlie sleeps better too, and I find myself missing his frequent wake up calls. He’s growing healthy and strong, and his well rested state combined with increased oxygen in his blood leave me more exhausted than ever. Thank God for answered prayers.
I can’t say whether or not I’d notice so many small things if not for Charlie’s special brave heart. Every parent revels in his or her child’s existence, and I know I would too even if he were CHD free. It’s just that I know the most complex and heart wrenching things imaginable can give us a better perspective on life. I know that after experiencing great loss and seemingly insurmountable suffering, I am blessed to gain so much more as I enjoy all the small things.