The alarm blared at 5 AM. My body, more than my mind, resisted the start of a new day. How I wanted to ignore reality and slip back into my down-covered dreamworld.

But the disciplined part of me wouldn’t allow such. Instead, as has become the habit of most folks, the first thing I did was reach over and pick up my phone. The one laying next to me that has sadly become an extension of my left arm.

Apple’s finest told me I had two new text messages. Who texted me in the middle of the night? I wondered. This can’t be good.

It was my young adult son. The one living out West on his own. The one I adopted. The one with the curly red hair and more personality than is fair to the rest of us. The one with more special needs than fits on any school, camp or athletic form. The one that first stole my mama-heart and kept it permanently.

What does he want this time? my tired, cynical self asked. Money? The Netflix password that I swear he shares with half of Utah? A one-way ticket home? To tell me that I was going to be a grandmother? I knew it had to be something. It is always something.

As I braced for the worst, (we moms of special needs kids have a unique kind of PTSD), my eyes surprised my heart. Shining from the screen were words we parents long to hear yet learn to never expect.

“Hey, I was talking to my girlfriend about my childhood. I wanted to say thank you for being an amazing mother. I couldn’t ask for anything better. You worked so hard for everything you gave me, and I appreciate it so much. I love you.”

I was stunned and should have gone back to sleep. Anything else in my day would pale by comparison.

Because, you parents know, or need I be the one to break it to you, that appreciation from your children is gravy. We take on the job of parenting as a choice. We sign-up for a one-way relationship whereby our role as giver demands 24/7/365. I hit the gravy train yesterday morning. Best savor that moment because it might be a long time before that engine passes by again.

Parenting is like marriage in that way. Nobody dare tell you how goddamned hard it is, or the human race would come to a screeching halt.

Wanted: Cook, Driver, Therapist, Emotional Container, Coach, Banker, Mentor, Teacher, Breast, Comedian, Playmate – all rolled into one. Must always be on-call. This is a volunteer position. Can be isolating. You will receive no immediate feedback except perhaps criticism from those you care for. Success will be determined by some unforeseen long-term outcome. Warning: this job will bring out the worst parts of you. All those unaddressed issues from childhood that you thought you mastered or buried or worst yet, didn’t even know you had.

Yep. No one is signing up for that position. The world would quickly revert to mere dinosaurs.

And yet, 353,000 babies are born each day around the world. (Did someone not warn these people?) We sign on anyway. We love anyway. We invest our time, money, sleep, bodies, hearts and souls anyway. Because we wouldn’t not love another generation into taking our place. Life is too grand to hoard. We must share its delight.

Yesterday at 5 AM, I had a moment of bliss. Mind you, I can’t erase the memories from hell. Hospitals. Police. Calls on repeat from the school principal. Days and years of keeping my head down and doing the next right thing with whatever capacity I could muster at the time. No thank yous. No progress reports.No clue how all this would turn out -if it would turn out at all.

Yet, I would do it all over again. I would love up my boy all over again. I truly won the parenting lottery. I love you more, my beautiful Aidan.