When I was pregnant with my first child, I imagined all the experiences I would have with my son. As I’m sure all expectant mothers do. Not just the first few weeks and months, but also the years ahead.
Breastfeeding, cuddles, learning to walk and ride a bike.
Trips to the park, standing on the sidelines watching him play football or rugby, and waving him off for his first day at secondary school.
Little did I know that my life with a first born child would be so different.
Not worse, in fact sometimes better – and certainly much more interesting and fulfilling in ways only a special needs parent could possibly imagine.
Tube feeding, cuddles with wires everywhere, frightened you would knock something that was keeping your baby alive. Bringing your baby home for first time, aged six months.
Learning to walk in a frame aged five, fundraising for an adapted wheelchair bike.
Spending endless days, weeks, and months inside a tiny hospital room.
Today, in the life I imagined myself leading this time 12 years ago, Lennon would have started secondary school. I would be straightening a wonky tie, taming messy hair, shining a pair of smart black shoes and watching an 11-year-old go out of the front door.
That day was never meant be.
Instead, I would have been administering a ton of medications, changing dressings, emptying stoma bags and packing medical equipment and supplies ready for the day ahead. I would have smothered my gorgeous boy with kisses and cuddles before pushing him out of the front door in his wheelchair and onto the school bus.
But I am not doing that either.
Instead I am waving off only two of my three children for their first day of the school year – Florence into year one and Isla into year six.
If you told me I could have Lennon back, even for the shortest time, and I could choose between the Son I imagined all those years ago, or the Lennon we were given, I would never choose the life that I imagined and dreamt of.
I would always choose the Lennon I know and love and our extraordinary life.
There will be many special needs parents sending their children off to school this morning wishing that they were on their way to a mainstream secondary school.
I’m sat here wishing my son was alive and that I was standing at my door waving him off on the school bus to his severe learning disability school, watching his beaming smile and flapping arms as the bus turns the corner at the bottom of my road.