‘Being Big’ is a relative term.
In physical stature my son Michael Bennett is about as small as they come at two years of age. In terms of the amount of trials he has courageously endured in his short life, he’s bigger than most of us.
Lately, I have found myself being pushed to be bigger than I ever thought I needed to be. Having a child with complex medical issues and learning to navigate everything that goes along with those challenges is a lesson in ‘Big’. For Michael, most of his 28 month life has been spent in surgery, recovering from surgery and existing in an orphanage. My 46 years of life, by comparison, has been a cake walk. When my frustration runs high and patience paper thin, I am reminded by my wife that our son’s path has required much more than I am giving.
Michael is my teacher.
As impossibly cute as MB can be, he can also turn into something out of a Hitchcock movie. Perhaps surviving in an orphanage, being displaced too many times or just being a two-year old, MB can get my goat like no other person. He seems to have it out for me at times – particularly me. As a parent, I can get stretched. It is at these times that I can choose to become a better dad, or completely crater. However, when I view Michael as my teacher, my outlook and my attitude towards him changes. I see him as a kid that is struggling to communicate as best he knows. I see a child fighting to be alive and to thrive. I see a boy crying out to me for my help. As big as we think we are, in reality there is always so much more growth required of us. In my case it’s a feisty two year-old to remind of that.
Mountains are Big.
Just last week, I loaded up MB into his backpack carrier and hoisted him on my shoulders. We took off on a long hike in the mountains of Colorado – the two of us. I thought about the path we walked upon, the one that brought him into my life and the trail that lay ahead for him and our family. We both stood in awe of the mountains that surround us. We took a couple of selfies and he fell fast asleep, his head on my left shoulder. I can’t predict the future for Michael nor for myself for that matter. I can however, learn to be a better dad for him now. I can learn to be a mountain, one that he can rely on, become healthier in and one in which he can live long beside me. I can become bigger.
“If you are faced with a mountain, you have several options. You can climb it and cross to the other side. You can go around it. You can dig under it. You can fly over it. You can blow it up. You can ignore it and pretend it’s not there. You can turn around and go back the way you came. Or you can stay on the mountain and make it your home.” –Vera Nazarian