like a magnet

I've heard it said that being a mom shouldn't define me. 

The longer I work at this calling of motherhood, the less I agree with that opinion. While I am more than a mother, the fact that I am a mother has served to change me so truly that I am wholly altered. Mothering fills my thoughts, my moments, my days. Motherhood has changed the shape of my physical body and my soul. The deepest layers of my heart are defined by this blessed gift of motherhood. 

Motherhood plays a profound role in my friendships. The closeness of my heart to the hearts of others directly hinges on their relationship with my children. 

The truth of this as it relates to Trevor is especially significant. I know it makes people cringe when praise is given to those that do something kind for disabled kids (and adults). I agree that kindness should be the rule. Period. I also know that to engage with Trevor requires more work than it does to engage with myself or my other children. He has yet to grow past the "me-first" developmental phase. His speech is limited. His interests more so. Friendship, on the surface, feels very one-sided. I make a note of "on the surface" because I've experienced how beautiful and generous a deep relationship with him is. He gives far more than he takes. He has not one drop of guile. He will never maliciously gossip about you. He isn't easily offended and is abundantly forgiving. His friendship is the truest. 

In social situations his anxiety steals his words and works on his physical body like a magnet turned the wrong way so that it's repelling, pushing, rather than drawing in. In social situations you'll find him pacing, flapping, avoiding. It takes observation to realize that he is simply a magnet that needs to be approached from a different angel. He wants to be drawn in, even if his body language has a repelling expression. He craves relationship. His disability is a barrier. I, as his mother, expend so much energy to bridge and help foster meaningful encounters. I wish I could say different, but most often we meet with disappointment. A fleeting greeting and nothing more. My heart aches for him. My heart aches for our family. My heart aches for me. We do meet with the occasional "unicorn" which serves to heal some of those achings. Thank God for the unicorns.

I am so defined by being his mother that I am physically fatigued, feeling like I was hit by a truck, after we endure (and I DO mean endure) social situations be they church, home-school related, or in the community at large. On a practical level, it is draining just keeping him safe. But there is a weightier emotional fatigue when I'm forced, because I don't have the luxury of averting my eyes, to watch how his disability isolates him and by extension the rest of us.

We were with a group of friends, kids and parents, recently. Some of the kids know and are friendly with Bristel. I watched as the children parted company in their little groups, as children are wont to do. The only child not in a group was Trevor. I said nothing aloud, but oh my heart did ache. While inclusion flows from the heart, it can also be encouraged and taught. I wished on every red leaf that one of the other parents would notice and encourage their child to include Trevor; to draw him in. I determined to praise them like crazy if they did. It never happened and I didn't have the energy to be a bridge that day. Sadly, he is accustomed to being alone and as usual sought his companionship needs from me. I don't think it ever crossed his mind to feel excluded. But he was. After awhile his sister noticed and left her group to join him. I watched as she and Trevor walked along; just the two of them. Her friends did not enter his world with her. They simply carried on with their laughing and chatting as they were. It revealed the depth of their friendship. Oh how I wished they'd come alongside her on this painful journey of his, which is also ours. Watching how his disability isolated the both them was achingly moving. 

So moving that it's been simmering in my soul for weeks now. 

Which led to a two-fold epiphany of sorts in the middle of the night. 

One. I will never, ever have any sort of meaningful relationship with someone who doesn't have an intentional relationship with him. 

Two. My heart will always expand towards those making an honest effort, no matter how awkwards or bumbling, to love and truly include him, which by extension draws all of us in. Like a magnet turned the right way. 

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