Thursday, November 19, 2009

Epistle: To D., on the Occasion of His Sixth Birthday.

Oh my freaking gosh, D., you are six. SIX. You have been on this planet, been in our lives for SIX YEARS. Part of me thinks this is absolutely impossible, because I, of course, am a mere 19 years old and it is 1994. And another part of me thinks this is impossible because you were just a little baby, and we weren't sure you would ever walk, and we didn't know if you would talk, and we didn't know -- well. You get the picture. And part of me feels like you've always been here, always been a part of my life.

I can hardly remember who I was before you. I can hardly remember a time when I didn't know what an occupational therapist did. When I was unfamiliar with the acronyms that populate the special needs world. When I was perhaps more innocent but -- and I have to be careful here, because I'm trying to convey a lot in words that seem insufficient to the task.

What I mean to say is, life was easier before you, for sure, but I'm not sure it was as worthwhile. And I don't mean that in a Chicken Soup-y kind of way, like all kids with special needs and their families are one big, happy, group of people who are SO HAPPY TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY and blah blah. Not that. What I mean is, you made me more cognizant of my own capacity for love and patience. You taught me about advocacy and strength. You teach me daily what hard work really is. And you give me a pretty decent excuse to speak my mind to random strangers at Target.

If I didn't have you, I would probably take a lot more for granted. So many people, after all, have healthy, whole children and never stop to marvel at the sheer wonder of it. I certainly didn't, back when I was a mother to two little girls.

It's only in retrospect that we appreciate our good fortune, I suppose.

There are days, my love, when I catch you with that glazed look in your eye, or when you're flapping your arms and grunting, or when your mouth is hanging open, and I would be lying, flat out lying, if I said that it didn't make me absolutely BATSH*T CRAZY to see you like that. It doesn't mean I don't love you, because obviously, I do. I think that's probably the hardest part. Like all mommies, I love you so much, and I want only the best for you, and I just have a hard time reconciling "the best" with... flapping.

There are days, my love, when I see you with the critical eye of a stranger, even if it's only for a moment, when I see the external, when I hyperfocus on what is there and present and obvious. And then you turn and smile, and that smile, that smile, it opens up my heart and the very heavens sing. It touches everyone around you, that smile. The one I see when I come to pick you up from school, and you tear yourself away from your friends and race over to me, hug me so hard I stagger backwards, and shout, "It's my MOMMY!" The pride in your voice, on your face as you tell everyone in the school, "Look who's here!" You astound me.

You force me to confront the worst parts of myself, it's true, but you also force me to be better. To do more. To advocate. To educate. To teach tolerance -- but not to tolerate ignorance.

I love you, more than I can possibly say. More than I can ever express. I love you.



DESJ and Company said...

i can't believe he's 6! happy birthday, d.
As usual, love what you wrote.

ella said...

Happy birthday, D! You ARE awesome. And so is your Mom.

Melissa said...

Wonderful post! Happy birthday to your wonderful 6 year old boy!

Shosh said...

happy birthday, D!

Lisa said...

I have tears in my eyes...that was beautiful. I can't believe he's 6 either...

Feels like it's been awhile since I said!

moplans said...

Happy Birthday D!

WG thank you so much for writing here, I feel the same way about those worst parts of myself.

imaybecrazy said...

I feel like I know you. I also have a son who can't write his name despite being of kindergarten age, etc. I'm so sick of hearing people make these stupid comments completely taking all these wonderful milestones so utterly for granted.

You crack me up, despite your obvious pain, and I so relate. I can't talk about my son without crying and I so can't remember a time when talking about fine motor, motor planning, low-tone, apraxia, etc. etc. etc.etc. wasn't in my everyday vernacular. Can't you please visit Chicago so I can buy you a cup of coffee???

Thanks for your honesty.