Tonight Bugaboo stood on stage with his peers, the Puggles group at church. His teachers helped him onto the stage as I sat across the sanctuary with the group of Sparkies I helped this year. He didn't sing the words to the theme song with his friends, though he will sing some of them at home with me. He had to be redirected a few times to stay in his spot, and his teacher-buddy helped him to do the motions because he can't do them on his own. I sat in my pew unable to keep the tears from coming out, seeing him up there as one of the group, even though so obviously different. It was simultaneously difficult and encouraging to watch.
Then his teacher had all of the kids say their name one by one into the microphone. When it was his turn, there was nothing at first. I could see his helper trying to assist him, and just when they were about to say his name for him, he said it. And I cried some more. I might have imagined it, but I am pretty sure our church cheered the loudest for Bug tonight.
Every Wednesday night and every Sunday morning a handful of dedicated volunteers make it possible for my son to hear the Word of God and interact with his peers. They give me encouragement throughout the year about the progress they see in him. For every disillusionment I have had with "the Church," there are beautiful moments and faithful and kind people that keep pointing me to Jesus. For every trying moment on days filled with unexplained meltdowns and behaviors, there are also moments of little victories - of conquering the slides at the playground and saying a name into a microphone. The gift amid the struggles of being a "special needs mom" are the times when you celebrate "ordinary" milestones and others join you in that celebrating.