Sunday, May 31, 2009

Now We Are Six

Dear "S",

Another year has passed and suddenly you are six years old. I could say something cliche about how time flies, but there is nothing cliche about you.

The nature of being second in birth order is quite familiar to me. I have a big brother like you. And your big brother has blazed a trail for you. This means that your parents were much more relaxed about your arrival, your nightly wakings, your tiny newborn noises.

On the day we were going to leave the hospital, I curled up with you in my bed. You were dressed in a white hospital gown and swaddled in white blankets. The light coming from the window was a muted glow due to the rain clouds. Your little face shone as you slept, and you were perfect to me. I knew that our time alone was limited. So instead of resting up for the journey home, I wept. For two hours. I didn't care if someone saw me in such a state.

And that was the beginning of a life lesson for me. In my preteen, teen, and young adult years, I cared too much about what people thought of me. It's common, I know. Lots of time spent on my appearance. Lots of time pretending to be someone I wasn't. I thought too much about what other people thought.

Before your diagnosis of autism, I was so worried. That doesn't mean I don't worry now. But no one could put a name to what was happening. Inexplicable behaviors, learning difficulties. Late at night I would kneel next to your bed while you slept. I held your hand and wept, again.

Now we have a name, a course of treatment, a goal. And I have finally learned to stop caring-- about what other people think. I don't care that you are not a typical kid. I don't care that some people consider me a bad parent for "letting" you have a fit in public. The moment I see someone make a face or a noise, I turn away. Life is too short for me to spend it worrying about what other people think of me or of you. The most important thoughts are those I have of you, and those thoughts cannot be described with words.

So, thank you for being my son. I no longer cry at your bedside out of fear or missed opportunities. You have focused my life and increased my purpose, and I will be forever grateful that you came into my world.