Talk about a long overdue post. But also in some ways a post that never HAD to be written. I have gone back and forth on how much to talk about Jack. How much to talk about the struggles we’ve had and the journey we have been on as parents.
I have struggled with how to share his story, and our story in a mutually beneficial way. How to protect him, but also be vulnerable and open.
My Sweet Boy Jack
3.5 years ago I decided to start a journey in blogging. A journey to share our lives and to share all the projects and DIYs I was doing. 3.5 years ago I had no idea that hundreds of thousands of you would read these posts monthly and so many of you would join in on our lives.
With that has come some struggles.
I am a very open book. But that is 99% of the time filled with positivity and sharing the strengths of my kids. However that is such a small part of our story and I never want to portray a perfect life that isn’t our reality .
My hope is with this post I can explain a bit more of what our lives as parents have looked like, and where the struggles and triumphs have been.
I remember when Jack was maybe 1.5/2 near the beginning of this journey I followed a mom on Instagram who wrote a blog post. It is forever a blog post that is stamped in my brain. Her words were beautiful, but more so I knew I was her.
That in a few years I would be in her shoes, and it gave me hope that I desperately needed at that time.
The pain and the isolation that have come with parenting Jack aren’t new. I know if you follow me on Instagram and tuned in this week you might think these struggles are new, but that is far from the truth. But also – you may be my friend in real life and have no idea.
I have gotten great at hiding this struggle and pain. For Jack and myself. .
I THRIVE ON POSITIVITY. So now am trying to find a way to interweave that with the realness that is sometimes hurt. But also with the positivity that is being Jack’s mom.
Because – if you read only one portion in this blog post read this. Jack is the light of my life. Every hard moment that has come with raising him has come with 100 moments of pure joy. I wouldn’t trade him or the life I have raising him for anything EVER!
We had Jack at 23. I had one friend with a child at the time, and was pretty much blind in the parenting game. By my 25th birthday things got hard. I was worried about his language.
I was already pregnant with Avé and if I could explain to you the pain 18 months – 2.5 ish were in raising him, I am not sure I could put it in words.
I became secluded as a mom, and in reality that has become much of how parenthood has remained for Sam and I. If you have a child that struggles you may know what I am talking about. It is isolating – you avoid situations to protect your child and to protect you.
We have closed doors on friendships, or come across as the parents that don’t seem to want to come – but really it was because we were in a silent struggle. It has made Sam and I stronger, but I would be lying if I said it was easier.
Even the the women I consider my closest friends in the world only know to some degree how deep this pain has been. Because I have gotten SO GOOD at protecting him above all.
And sometimes that has meant at the degree of putting on a brave face on the hardest days.
So here we are – Jack is nearly 8. Things sometimes feel easier and sometimes feel harder. The decisions seem bigger. But my hindsight is bigger.
My confidence in raising him has grown and I have learned to sleep through the night instead of letting fear keep me awake for weeks on end.
My biggest fears with Jack were that he would never be attached to me. That I wouldn’t know he would love me. That he wouldn’t say mama. I waited over 2 years to hear my first baby say mama. If I could pull 24 year old Arin aside and tell her what Jack looks like now I know she would smile and sleep.
Every. Single Day. He tells me ” I love you more than anything else in the entire world.” with a huge hug.
He loves me. He loves God. He loves his family. He has joy beyond measure in the things he loves. So those are the thing that matter.
But because I can only hope I can help another sweet mama that can’t sleep tonight, I want to share a bit more about Jack below. The good and the bad. The real Jack.
So, I would like you to REALLY meet Jack
- He loves what he loves. He loves what he knows well. He is very very smart on certain things like animals. He knows everything about animals.
- If you meet him you will likely think he is just like every other 7 year old boy.
- His language has caught up well but sometimes he still struggles.
- Riding a bike is really hard for him. . But riding a scooter isn’t. So in true Jack form he rides the scooter instead and chooses not to let him bother him.
- Jack is very easily distracted. He trys to focus and sometimes does well but sometimes the sounds and the distractions of the world are bigger for him.
- Jack can struggle with normal social lines. Just a little too silly. Just a little too full of stats on something and not noticing he is ‘annoying’ someone.
- His feelings are BIG. Our favorite thing from Jack is that we hear ‘best day ever’ weekly from him. But on the other side sometimes things will lead to a ‘worse day ever’ more often than we would like.
- Eye contact is hard. He will do it because it is polite. But sometimes it comes with extra blinking because it’s hard.
- You might think he doesn’t want to follow the rules. Sometimes that is true because he is a little boy. Sometimes tho the rules are truly hard for him to remember or understand.
- Being outside – digging in the dirt, swimming, running. Those things are fun, but they help him too. Moving his body helps him to focus.
- When the tears start – they last longer than you might think they should. He feels things bigger than most which if you ask those close to him will be an asset someday.
- When things don’t go as he planned he gets extra frustrated. It is hard for him, and sometimes he reacts in a way that puts eyes on him. That is even harder for him. Learning to handle those big feelings are really hard.
- He loves zoo books, drawing, making comic books, coloring, anything his siblings want to watch on tv, and hunting bugs.
- His memory is insane
- He is the best car rider we have
- He rarely complains about a situation but if he doesn’t like it he will REALLY complain.
- Self control is hard.
- His family is VERY important to him. The people he loves he loves big. We as his parents say the world would be downright perfect if everyone loved people in the way he loves Goldie.
- Fine motor skills and language have been hard for him.
- Gross motor skills once he masters them are areas he excels.
- He has worked hard daily to be brave.
- He has worked hard to hit every one of those ‘wins’ and they haven’t come easily.
All in all – I hope that paints a better picture of that sweet boy. If I could explain to you the light he is, I would have written this so much more eloquently but I can’t. Jack will no doubt go far in life.
That is something I worried so deeply about years ago.
But sometimes finding the path for him and the path that means for our family doesn’t come easily. Sometimes making sure he will go far AND BE HAPPY is my biggest fear.
Navigating how to protect him. What does that look like. Where is that line. That is hard as a mom.
But from the bottom of our hearts – we are thankful for you. We are thankful for this tiny army of people who I know love him well. Who I know pray for him, and for us.
Who I know can see him for who he is. I say all the time. I want to find a tribe who loves Jack and loves him and us for who he is in his entirety, not despite his hardships.
So if you are a young mom reading this with a child you are struggling with – know that it gets better. Somehow our love for them grows daily.
Somehow God paints a picture every day that shows they were given to us for a reason. It doesn’t always seem easier. It definitely rarely seems fair, but you got this!
And to all the moms – remember we need to be there for each other. We need to be there for each others kids. This world is hard. Be the light in the world that is maybe needed in someones life and you don’t even realize it.