...a post heading that sounds more like the title to a Lifetime channel Movie than a pivotal moment that I have been dreading...but it did happen...and I found myself casually walking into our half bath next to our kitchen to drop a few tears onto a thin Kleenex tissue as the moment overtook me.
Like most parents you never want to reach that point when your baby is no longer a baby. In my situation I never wanted to reach the point when my baby no longer looked like a baby but still acted like a cute fragile five month old.
I am not complaining about the five month old part because I am one of the few fortunate parents that still gets to snuggle endlessly with their Johnson and Johnson smelling bundle of joy. I still get to keep our crib at the highest setting and save my back from the uncomfortable bending over. I still get to leave small objects lying around our home and don't have to vacuum every single day. I can still go out and about without having to worry about chasing a toddler around, and I have been able to celebrate every single tiny milestone that Noah has reached because we have had three times as long to wait for each one of them and they stand out all the more.
The part that opened my tear ducts is the simple fact that we have now officially approached the next level as a family with a special needs child. He may be as cute as a button and babble and coo and cuddle but he is growing and growing fast. He can no longer pull off the just-big-for-his-age look anymore. He is 18 months old and as such looks like he is 18 months old. He is really tall/long for any typical 18 month old and sitting in his stroller, car seat, or his portable highchair you can see that there is just something not totally "typical" about him. Waiters, cashiers, and the every day person who doesn't know us are now taking a few extra seconds to assess our situation.
We have so far been fortunate enough to not have anyone really say anything out of the ordinary to us other than everyone thinking Noah is about to fall asleep because his eyes usually make him look that way. "Looks like your little guy just woke up" "Somebody is about to fall asleep" "Allergies are getting to me too little buddy." Just a few of the comments we have had so far which we always reply with "I think you might be right *insert big fake grin*"
I have been trying to prepare myself for the inevitable since learning about Noah's future. Is there a way to ever prepare oneself to be mentally loaded with really good/nice/educated/mean/poignant/funny/embarrassing and/or factual comebacks or responses to dish out to people I don't know nor care about as I go about my daily tasks? Is ignoring the situation or comment the way to go? Do I try and use the moment to teach someone something new? Do I use this person as an outlet to push my current days emotion onto instead of a family or friend I care about? Will I be totally thrown when the first real negative comment is made or will my 18 months of thinking about all of this prepare me enough to be the bigger person and say or do the right thing? What is the right thing?
We are currently sitting right on the cusp where Noah's out-of-control hair, big toothy grin, and adorable laugh attacks are the topic at hand when approached by people we don't know. I cherish these comments and remarks because Noah is still young/small enough for them to not really notice that he isn't sitting up on his own yet, or that he isn't able to hold anything or say a single word yet. For now all they see is a really cute toddler that likes to lay back chillaxed-style in his stroller and laugh endlessly as I pretend I am a race car driver cruising down the frozen vegetable isle while his daddy pushes the grocery cart that he has yet to be able to sit in for more than 5 minutes assisted.
For now we are still going strong with the cute remarks but the lengthy stares are officially upon us. Sooner than not we will just find out what exactly my response might be when I get my first real negative comment from a stranger. Anyone want to take a bet on how I might react? I kind of already feel bad for my first "victim" because I honestly have no idea how my Momma-Bear-Self will be feeling after hibernating and juggling all these responses for an entire 18 months *insert real grin*