Candace Ganger

9 Times When My Son Took Care Of Me Without Knowing It

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My son is only five but absolutely one of my favorite people in the entire universe (not an exaggeration). He seemed to come out of me with all the traits I was lacking (and desperately needed) and even though he's so young, there have been a lot of times when my son took care of me without knowing it and I'm so, so grateful. Not only is this sweet boy my rainbow baby, he was an actual wish come true. It's hard to explain my relationship with my baby boy, but I'll try (and before you think the words "mama's boy," he totally is and we're OK with that).

Let me rewind for a second. After having my daughter in 2006 and suffering through intense postpartum depression (PPD), a lot of my time before my son was born was filled with miscarriage and infertility. It all really changed me as a mother, wife, and woman. Once pregnant with my son five years later, and his little fetal heartbeat strengthened more by the day, we had a different connection than I'd had with my daughter (or really, anyone). It doesn't mean I love him more than everyone else, it just means our relationship has always been different because maybe we subconsciously bonded through my previous losses. When you hope for pregnancy for so long, and experience loss in between, it's hard not to be so attached. I actually think my daughter might agree about their own relationship, though it depends on the day you ask her.

What I've noticed over the years is that despite all the times I'm there for him, he's also been there for me. Only, he has no idea how big his words or actions are at the time. Here are just some of those ways he's brightened my world just by being him.

When I Was Sick

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Being the parent who's home all the time (it's where I live, breathe, and work), of course I'm going to get sick at some point. You know what happens when this mom is sick? The house literally falls apart. There was a time a couple years back when the flu hit our house pretty hard. When my husband went off to work, I still had to figure out how to care for my littles while barely caring for myself. My son, even then, laid with me on the couch. He didn't ask for anything and didn't complain when it took me longer to do something. He was patient and kind and exactly what I needed.

When I Had A Bad Day

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Every bad day I've had, my little guy has been there with his jokes that make no sense, his tiny voice, and usually, an off-the-wall compliment like "you're the butter to my popcorn." Yeah, it's as adorable as it sounds.

When I Went Through A Depression

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In 2014, I had the kind of mental health breakdown I'd only known about through television. In order to get through it, I had to take drastic steps, including immediate psychiatric care (individual and group therapies). It was life-changing in many ways. Through it all, both of my kids were fantastic. They cheered me on and showed me recovery was possible. My son, who was not yet 3 at the time, didn't understand everything, but he knew enough to give me hugs when I didn't ask for them. That was everything.

When I Had A Bad Race

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Running is part of my being. It hasn't always been, as it's only been part of my life for just over four years now, but every now and then, I have a run or race where I don't do my best or, at times, get really sick afterwards. Part of it is my body not being 100 percent on board with the sport and the other part is that sometimes a bad run happens. Regardless, every day I return from my morning ritual, or when I get home from a big race, my son is the first to greet me at the door with a hug. He even asks how my run went which, come on, how cute is that?!

When I Got A Stress Fracture

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Along with my running journey comes injury (unfortunately). Two months after my first marathon, I ran a 50k and my body wasn't happy. I got a stress fracture in my calcaneous bone (the heel), which they told me was hard to do. Go me.

The point of this is, when I had to drag around a heavy boot while the fracture healed, it was my son who stayed by my side. When I was frustrated I couldn't run, or crying because it hurt, he'd sit with me until I calmed. He didn't have to know why I was upset to be there, and when I think back that eight weeks would've been a lot lonelier if he hadn't.

When My Grandmother Died

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One of the biggest upsets in my entire life has been enduring the loss of my beloved grandmother. She was like a mother to me through some pretty dark times, so when she fell sick enough that she wouldn't return home, it killed me to live so far away. The times I visited, my kids went along, and would hold my hand as I sat near to watch her fade away. The week of the funeral, my daughter was struggling with what death meant and how to be a compassionate person (hormones) which made it harder for me to grieve. My son was the opposite. Quiet and calm, he let me grieve as much as I needed, laid with me when I couldn't think of doing another mundane chore, and hugged me, again, for no real reason. Without words, he was my comfort.

When He Got Along With His Sister That One Time

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My son is very much a pesky little brother at times, just as his sister has gotten good at ignoring or belittling him when he just wants to be near her. They both have their struggles within that sibling relationship, and I remember how hard it can be. My brother and I were sworn enemies until I graduated and left the house. So maybe there have been a few times my kids have gotten along and when you're home as much as I am with them, alone, there's really no better way to take care of me than this.

When I Was Stressed From Work

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A couple years ago, I took a part-time job outside of the house at a local running store to help pay the bills. It was a great place to work, but often very busy and I'd have to juggle multiple customers. I'd leave feeling too exhausted to breathe. When you're a mom, you don't get to just tap out. My son instinctively knew to be on his best behavior on those particularly exhausting days. Not all the time, but as a toddler, sometimes is good enough.

Everyday At Some Point

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There's a reason I refer to my son as my "sunshine." My daughter is special in her own way, but my son makes every day brighter just by being in it. He has no idea the life he's given me since his birth, or how much he does for my soul on the days I just want to hide under the covers. Just now, he told me I'm "pretty and cute" for no reason other than he was walking by. I think I'll keep him.