I believe that children come to this earth with unique gifts. Liam is sensitive and spiritually just in tune--he is blessed with a desire to be good and obedient. Matt represents happy--his handsome face, his enthusiasm for the things he is passionate about (lately, when he likes a song, he kick-stomps a single foot, as hard as humanly possible, and smiles so big you feel like his face is going to explode), and "happy" is his most frequent response to the question, "how are you Matt?" Adi is a source of joy to everyone she comes in contact with (unless you are her age and on the receiving end of her stubborn, bossy-ness). She tests me, but when that girl wants to please and be full of light, there is no light brighter.
Well, one of the special gifts that comes from having a family with an extra-special is the surprise miracle that I'm starting to catch glimpses of. Liam and Adi want to help Matt. They are learning how to love him in their own, unique ways. They are starting to develop relationships with him that are independent of my encouraging. Matt is starting to seek them out and respond to them in a way that teaches me about both him and them. It's beautiful to watch.
This became so obvious to me over this last weekend. We took a trip to our happy place (Sunriver) and immediately headed up to the mountain. Todd was determined to get the entire family on snow shoes. I rolled my eyes a little bit because I was certain there was no way this was going to work, but his enthusiasm was contagious and I found myself secretly hoping that, by some miracle, we might actually find our winter family activity--something we have been struggling to discover. So we pack all of our snow gear, 5 pair of snow shoes, the dog and our optimism into the van and head to a beautiful trail on Mt. Bachelor. First sign we pass says no dogs....we choose to completely disregard this sign (or at least pretended not to see it) because we were not about to give up after all of the effort we had already gone through to get there. It is no small feat for any family to time potty trips and packing up that much gear, so to arrive and turn around because of a stupid no-dog sign seemed weak--like giving up. Forget it.
So Izzy ran around int he snow in the empty parking lot, happy as can be, while we saddled (shoed) everyone up. Within about two minutes of starting this process, we realized our timing would, again, have to be impeccable. The instant Matt's snow shoes were on, I needed to be ready to take off with him or he would lose it. So I got ready quickly and the instant he was rearing to go, we started to walk--so quickly he didn't have the time to notice there were giant tennis rackets attached to his feet. He just started to follow. I was AMAZED. We made it to....well....the trail head. He started to notice that a) he wasn't very fond of his flippers, and b) it was cold. So he started to freak out a little and flops his body into the wet snow. Let me explain something about Matt's "flop." He is 75 pounds of slippery fish capable of escaping the tightest of mother-vice grips as I attempt to pick him up by armpits, by limbs....by anything I can get a moment's grip on. He was not to be picked up. The battle had started.
Todd catches up to us as we have made it approximately 7 feet from the trail head. He finds Liam on his knees because he tripped, Matt sprawled in snow-angel position, and Adi sitting down eating the snow. There I am, in the middle of everyone, dancing and singing (in forced-happy-Mom--cheerleader-voice) songs of encouragement in an attempt to probe my brood into motion. I found that if I walked away from Matt a little, he would wail and moan louder...and then suddenly pull himself to standing and start to walk a little. This would last for about 7 steps (we counted--I was offering bribes for every 20 steps) before slippery fish face would flop once again onto his ice cold pillow of puffy snow.
This process repeated itself (insert several instances of Todd and I physically picking Matt up and carrying him for a few steps while he dragged inverted snow shoes, pulling him to his feet by grabbing clothing items attached to parts of his body that he couldn't wrestle out of our grip) until we finally made it a grand total of....wait for it....200 yards. GO TEAM! When we got to the end, we took photos, did a dance of joy, and then pointed at the parking lot with encouraging words and promises of iPads and music when we made it back to the car.
Apparently all of these bribes fell on completely deaf ears and about four steps into the return trip, Matt flops face first into the snow with a wail of protest. He is LOUD. I can hear the echo and am pretty positive the entire mountain can too as his volume has progressively crescendoed to a rather disturbing level. We decide to attempt our "walk ahead a few steps and see if he'll stand up" strategy, but this time, Matt is just laying there, pathetically, and the wailing does not subside. It is clear he is miserable.
Liam is the first to speak up: "I can't stand this. I'm going to back to help." Adi immediately falls in step with him and, before Todd or I can move a muscle, they are traipsing back to help their helpless brother. Given that neither of us, in all of our brute strength, could get Matt to stand upon request, we thought this would provide a little comic relief, if nothing else. But what we witnessed was far from comical.
Our two beautiful children stood on either side of their frustrated brother and in calm, soothing voices, spoke encouraging, loving words to him. They offered him a hand and he looked up at them with total trust, took their hands, stood, and started to walk resolutely towards us with his brother and sister flanking him. The three of them, hand in hand, all wearing massive smiles at their victory marched through the snow in their snow shoes and I thought my heart would burst.
At that moment I realized that we were seeing a miracle in our family--that my children are becoming the types of human beings that I have prayed they will become, but that I knew I could not somehow turn them into, in spite of my best efforts to do so. What is happening to them is because of Matt--not us. They are becoming sensitive in a way that makes me feel overwhelmed with gratitude. For some reason, this experience helped me to see that so clearly, so I stood there in the snow, beaming and crying, watching my three crazies that were driving me insane moments before and feeling inspired by their goodness.
Of course, I tried to get it on video. It's short, but you get the idea.