I was getting on the elliptical machine the other day and like a lot of machines you have to put in your age.  Sometimes, this is done by putting the numbers in like a calculator and other times, like mine, you push the up or down arrow until you get the correct age.

So the other day, I as I was advancing the age from its starting point of 35 years until it hit my age ( yes, it was a number of pushes), I started thinking as I watched the numbers advance.   What was I doing at age 36, 37, 42, and on?  And this was weird for me because I exercise almost daily so I had done this particular thing a great number of times.

But as I thought about the years, I, of course, started thinking about

Elizabeth, her life, her gains and our struggles.  I thought about John, Emily and Michael.  As I continued to click the years up ( I told you it was several pushes), I started thinking about some advice I got from a dear friend many, many years ago and weather or not I had actually followed it.

My friend told me once when Elizabeth was little and pretty deep in the depths of her disorders to “Love her Michele, simply love her, enjoy her.  When time passes, you will always know you did this.”  It was big advice then because of how hard things were at the time with Elizabeth.

Elizabeth, for those who do not know, is my daughter with special needs, specifically sensory processing disorder ( SPD) and global dyspraxia. Emily, is my oldest child and Michael is my youngest.  They are all so very amazing and truly, along with their Dad, complete my heart.

But I wonder, did I follow that advice well enough?  Did I love and enjoy as much as I could?

I allowed myself to ponder this because I watched the years click up on the machine knowing that next year I will click one more year up but before that happens, I have the ability to self-evaluate, change what I may not care for in my approach to things, nurture more, whatever it may be.

But I have the chance.

I know as I looked back on those memories that the machine was encouraging, I know we did enjoy the good, celebrated the highs, worked hard when the lows came.  I know we loved her and love her more now.

But did I have moods I wish I didn’t?

Yes.

Did I feel more negative at times than I would have liked?

Yes.

Did I feel tired at the thought of another struggle or new therapy?

Yes.

But I did love.  I know that.

And I take moments like this elliptical presented as a gift.  A gift to let me look back and ahead at the same time.  To let me see where we were and allowing me to see what I wish to be and do in the future.

Because the future will include a wonderful Elizabeth, who will still have her disorders.

I know as parents of these special needs children, we carry a lot of thoughts and emotions each day.  Some days the emotions change every five minutes.  And it is hard work, but we would do whatever we could for our children.  We know that.

So maybe the words of my friend, will be ones that simplify this time of your life.  To let go of the other emotions and just know you love your child. To know you did that is to follow the advice that I have for years.

I know that sometimes it is the simple things that really mean the absolute most.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti  author of “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “Emily’s Sister

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