As I've been thinking about stuff I have to be thankful for (and visions of stuffing dance in my head), it's occurred to me how much gratitude I owe Max. This hasn't always been the case: During the first Thanksgiving of his life, I wasn't feeling the thanks. Mostly, I was anxious about his future, despondent that something had happened to him, and feeling sorry for all of us.
It's eight Thanksgivings later. Above all, I am thankful for how far Max has come—and the progress he continues to make. And though I will probably never feel an effusive rush of appreciation for doctor office waits, IEP meetings, medication monitoring or sensory-overload meltdowns, I am grateful for the many ways this child has changed my world.
And so, my little love:
* Thank you for helping me understand that kids and people with special needs are, in so many ways, just like anyone else. I would have never known that if it weren't for you.
* Thank you for showing me what real determination is. You may have cerebral palsy, but you can leap tall buildings in a single bound in your mind.
* Thank you for giving me extreme appreciation of things I'd previously taken for granted. Before you came along, I'd never marveled over legs that walk or lips that talk. Now I'm well aware of the intricate movements a body has to do to make them happen, and I am grateful for them.
* Thank you for that great, big smile that lifts me up on my most down days.
* Thank you for not programming your iPad speech app to say "Your butt looks big in those jeans."
* Thank you for redefining my idea of "achievement." It's not just about reaching the end goal; it is each and every little score along the way.
* Thank you for teaching me how to be uber-uber-uber-assertive. OK, I was no pansy before I had you but now, watch out! Doctor doesn't have an available appointment for twenty years? Insurance company not paying the bill? Yeah, we'll see about that.
* Thank you for the perspective on what really matters in this world.