January Is The New June

January has traditionally been my old nemesis. It wins for longest, coldest, most depressing, and bleakest month, which means it really isn’t a winner at all.

(Poor January Jones. Does she secretly despise her frigid name, I wonder? I’d rename myself July. Or March. Or December. Or pretty much any other month of the year, except February.)

But I’m giving January a second chance this year. I’m going to stop being all stuck up and snooty about a month that usually makes me want to hibernate beneath my down comforter. With my electric blanket on. And the merino wool socks I stole from my husband, which he cannot ever have back.

Here’s why: this year is different. It’s already better and brighter and less dreary.

I can handle a pleasant January. I’m finding this pleasantly surprising.

Last January, Jack was constantly and surreptitiously smearing his daily constitutionals around various parts of the house.  This January, the Code Browns have become fewer and farther between. They still happen sometimes, but they are nothing like the horrifying poo-casso murals of yesteryear. Giant sigh of relief. ENORMOUS exhale.

During the long month of January eight years ago, I spent a long and stressful day at the university’s genetics department with my baby and my preschooler, where I learned that our seven-month-old had a really rare syndrome with an esoteric name and almost no research that conclusively could tell us what lay in our future. It was sort of like stumbling into a giant pit which sometimes appeared bottomless.

Eight Januarys later, I’ve grown up. I’m less fragile. I’m vastly more patient (but still not patient enough). I appreciate tiny victories and incremental baby steps representing progress.

I don’t spend energy caring about cars and houses and accessorizing on trend. It’s so eight years ago in my autobiography. Seriously, who cares.

I understand now that even when a diagnosis brings unknowns, parents understand a great deal about their special children–both intuitively and because they live in the same house (duh) and see everything.

I’ve learned how to navigate an IEP meeting, and find better school placements. I’ve discovered that date night isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. I’ve found that my support group friends are real-life angels who get it, who inspire me, and who offer compassion even as they each handle their own heavy burden.

I have seen how time, love, and the right therapy has transformed our Jack in seemingly subtle ways. Tonight Jack placidly ate dinner at the table, surrounded by family members. He played independently this evening, using toys appropriately. He carefully carried his iPad to the couch, and navigated half a dozen games, puzzles, and sensory apps. He cleaned up a bowl of crackers he dropped on the floor. He watched the baby have a bath and didn’t demand to get in and commandeer the tub. He tossed his dirty clothes in the hamper. He pooped in the potty! He happily brushed his teeth and quietly folded his arms while I said his bedtime prayer (and Charlie chimed in praising Santa Claus and the reindeer).

Any one of the items on this evening’s list is a complete miracle. The whole list itself shows a miraculous change and amazing progress.

Isn’t January beautiful?

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