So I learned a lesson from a monkey…and not even a real one at that…
My son Nolan has been into a variety of toys and stuffed animals, but not really anything he’s latched onto. Until he found the monkey. You see, the monkey is a not-flashy stuffed animal that was actually part of a diaper cake that was made for us when we had a baby shower for our first son, who is now 5. Somehow this monkey has traveled with us all these years, looking for the right child to obsess over him. Enter Nolan.
Needless to say, Monkey is Nolan’s homeboy. Well one day things got interesting, because it occurred to us that we hadn’t seen Monkey in awhile. Was he in the van? No. Was he under Nolan’s bed? Nope. In the wash? Nah. It was a great mystery. The good news was that Nolan actually hadn’t been asking for Monkey, so we had time to figure it out. What I was dreading, however, was the thought that Monkey was lost somewhere, like the grocery store or the mall. Then, out of the blue one day, Nolan started asking for Monkey…and he walked around everywhere with my wife looking for him. Oh boy. So I ran upstairs and began looking myself. I looked in the closets and in all the rooms, behind dressers, etc. No Monkey. I was exasperated. Where the heck was the Monkey?
Then I looked at the place I would’ve least expected it. See, the underside of my oldest son’s bed is actually two big drawers that pull out. Of course, I already looked in those drawers for Monkey with no luck. Something told me to pull the drawers out and see if, by some CRAZY chance, the Monkey was back there. I got down on the ground, looked, and there he was! It was a triumphant moment as I bounded down the stairs and victoriously presented Monkey to my happy little boy. YESSS.
So what on earth does this have to do with anything? You see, as a Heart Parent sometimes things get difficult, sometimes they’re frustrating, and sometimes they’re just plain overwhelming. There’s not enough time, not enough sleep, and not enough good news to go around and make things better. We know what it’s like aimlessly roaming the hospital halls just waiting, or that nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach when the calendar inches towards the next cardiology appointment. In those crazy moments, there exist other moments of joy, victory, and confidence. We always want those things to exist in places where it’s obvious, almost like it fell out of the sky into your lap. I wish I could say that’s always the case. You have to find those moments…and often they’re not where you expect them to be.
It can be in the car, stuck in traffic, when the song comes on…you know, the one you haven’t heard in foreeeeever, that makes you smile. Or it could be that other parent, you know, the one who has it all together while you’re a mess; and they tell you you’re doing an awesome job. Or maybe it’s on that day you have to leave for work at 5am and you look up at the stars still in the sky and the beauty of it takes your breath away; and you realize that while your world isn’t always perfect, it can still be stunning. Friends, don’t let those moments pass you by: they’re like little treasures that you stumble across from time to time and if you learn to appreciate them, you won’t be able to help but to smile and get that feeling like “Hey, I’ve got this!” So don’t forget to look around from time to time, find moments where you can help others, find your “monkey,” and remember that it’s ok to just smile and laugh sometimes!
Chris Perez (aka HLHS Dad) lives just outside Charlotte, NC with his wife and 3 sons – including Nolan, who was born with HLHS in 2012. He is the author of Half Heart. Whole Life: an HLHS Dad’s Blog, where he shares his journey as a heart dad with honesty, humor, and the realization that dad’s just handle things differently. In his spare time – if such a thing exists – Chris enjoys New York Yankees baseball, playing guitar, and memes. You can visit Chris’ blog at http://hlhsdad.com.