I'm not sure why, but it's always felt important to me to categorize and consider whether I'm having a good day or a bad day.

Maybe it's because of the times spent around the dinner table with my family growing up, telling my parents all the amazing or awful things that happened that day at school. 

(It was never just an "okay" day to me growing up -- something that I now understand must have been exhausting for my parents!) 

I still feel this impulse to want to know, in the moment -- is this a great day? 

Is this a photo-worthy moment? 

Is this a memory I must squirrel away, to hold in reserve for the bad times?

One of the biggest challenges for me as a parent, and especially as a parent of a child with special needs, is seeing the successes and the good days when they happen. 

It's easy to see the days where we didn't leave the house because James threw up thirty times and so I gave him three baths, or the days when I spend four hours with James at the doctor while someone else gets to take my daughter to a birthday party. 

Those don't feel like good days. 

And it's easy to see the good days when they're written in neon, like the day James started using a pincer grasp and fed himself for the first time, or the day he sat up from a prone position on his own. 

It took us a good thirty minutes of trying to figure out who had sat him up to realize that he'd done it on his own. 

That day, I cried, and I laughed, and I took pictures of him sitting up in his bed. 

James just sat there with a mischievous look on his face and let me carry on. 

He knew it was a good day.  

Most days aren't neon-sign days, however, and so it is often not until later that I realize that we had a good one. 

A month or so ago, it was an exceptionally beautiful day in North Carolina, where we live. 

It was a sunny, football-crisp kind of afternoon, but we were inside the house. 

We have three children in our family, and my oldest, who is six and typically developing, never wants to go outside and play by himself. 

I try not to dwell on the the way I thought things would be, before I knew James was going to beJames

I thought I would have a six and four year old and would say, "Go outside and play, boys." 

In that fantasy, after the boys go outside, I go and sit on the couch and read a magazine. 

There might be a box of chocolates involved. 

But James is James, and he has a rare seizure disorder.  

He can't walk or talk. 

He has a tendency to eat anything you put in front of him, including grass, dirt and mulch (that pincer grasp we were so excited to see gets frustrating too), and there aren't that many options for him to play outside. 

And our daughter, also typically developing, had only recently learned to walk and wasn't reliably able to play outside without my supervision. 

And so we sat inside, with the sun shining in through the playroom windows. 

I put on some music, our oldest son had out his Legos, the baby played with her toys, and James had his drum. 

James loves his drum so much that we have two of them, just in case something happens to one of the light-up, singing-in-Spanish, brightly colored instruments. 

My oldest chattered as he built his Lego spaceship, the baby tried to sing along with the music, and James banged his drum. 

As the children played, I sat in the warm square of sunshine coming in from the window and flipped through a magazine. 

So, the afternoon passed. 

It wasn't until after we brushed the children's teeth, read three bedtime stories, gave James his medicine, and tucked three little bodies into bed that I realized it. 

It had been a good day. 

It was a good day, even if it didn't look like anything like my fantasy of my sons running and playing together in the fall sunshine. 

This memory of my three children playing happily in the same room, with the sun shining through the window and the music playing, wasn't one of those neon-sign days. 

But having the children together, each of them so different but all happy and content? 

That's something worth keeping for later.

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