Perhaps we all do, allow our minds to ride the tide into the place where we imagine ease in a place that lacks hardship. I sit now snuggling my youngest son as he contentedly nestles in my lap, blankie in tow, watching Elmo on Sesame Street. From afar, we are a picture of perfect, both in our pajamas, catching a few rare moments alone; his three older siblings roaming our condominium complex in search of playmates. We sit cozy and yet, I wonder what life would be like if my sweet Amos spoke real words, yelled and bossed and had magnificent tantrums like his peers. Sometimes instead of crying about the here and now, I pretend.
I pretend that Amos is like everyone else and for a moment, I play the part of the oblivious mother that wrangles her four creatures, bickering and shoving, and lament aloud the decision of having four children. Those around me would laugh and I would emerge the super mother and funny to boot. Perhaps that's not really what would happen, but I can't help think that it would have been fun.
Instead I ponder my reality, in which I often am trailed by only three children. I get a sitter for Amos more than I like as venturing to new territories leaves him frustrated and overwhelmed. I choose to offer my older three children opportunities that may quickly be ruined by their nearly three year old brother that only embraces the outing as long as he is still in the car.
Recently, my oldest son asked why we never go out to dinner. He's right, we don't go out to dinner very often and though, I'm not sure if we would without Amos or not. I think we might though and I remember hauling my first three children, smartly dressed, to Beaufort for hamburgers and ice cream. I find myself feeling sorry for the son who notices our family is different from those around us and for a minute, I pretend that this is not our life. I would like to go off to dinner too, at the drop of a hat, and sit and enjoy a conversation with my big three and a husband without the heart tug of missing Amos and the necessary planning.
A tremendous amount of time is used up by the youngest member of our family, not that unusual until this summer. He should be growing out of toddlerhood by now and swimming independently at this age, if like his three siblings. He's not though. He adores the pool but after fifteen minutes, he gets out and walks to the gate and smiles at me. Yep, he's done and the rest of our family is just getting settled into swimming. Sometimes I pretend what Amos would be like if he were just an average child and one that I could cajole to get back into the pool, but he's not.
It is shamefully that I do this, wondering what life would be like without him in our family. It seems inherently wrong to admit that but shouldn't truth always win even if not worn as a badge of honor. My husband and I speak aloud of our children and smile and laugh in the stories when we think of the absence of one of them, all integral parts of our family. We fiercely love our Amos and to imagine a life without him seems wrong but does seem so simple.
I love him and all that he brings to the table though. He has enlightened me to a world that I never knew existed and I am enamored with him more than any of my children. His smile is enrapturing and the squeals when he sees me could not be more endearing, but yet, sometimes I pretend. And then I scoop him up, kiss his sweet nose, and tell him he is the most beautiful boy in the world and I can not imagine that his place in our family wasn't written in the stars. I'm not pretending then.