I have the pleasure of writing on the 6th of each month for Hopeful Parents, so I will also have the pleasure of writing a post to celebrate each of my son's birthdays. Today M is seven, and like the last, I find this addition of a year to be bittersweet. I am proud of my little man and what he IS able to do every day. He has such a genuinely beautiful soul that shines regardless of his lack of words. But it is hard to pass the years-the ones you had expectations of before he became him-and not feel a tiny bit crushed at what isn't.
This year, I have found it particularly difficult to hear about all of the other children M's age who are joining team sports. Sports were and still are a big part of the other half's and my life. I began playing soccer at age six as did my husband. I listen to my friends talking about juggling practice schedules, first goals scored, paying for equipment, and cheering in the stands with other parents. It makes me feel the slight twinge of the green-eyed monster, I must admit. It makes me feel like we weren't invited to the party, and that everyone forgot and still wants to tell us how great it was afterward.
And the thing is, I don't want my friends to stop telling me about it. I truly do wish to celebrate each of their children's achievements. Oddly, I suspect that when friends tell me what their children are participating in, they don't even think about M as being the same age and missing out on those opportunities. In fact, sometimes it is hard for me to remember that M is the same age as their kids. Or perhaps this is just me projecting my sadness that age hasn't quite caught up to M; as though he is this Benjamin Button sort of being, aging in reverse.
As time has progressed, my boy has lost words he once had. He has lost the ability to be potty trained during the daytime. He has lost interest in his peers. And yet the calendar shows me that he is seven. Seven years old.
We participated in Special Olympics baseball this past Spring, but the realization that this was more so we'd have that photo of him in a baseball hat and jersey rather than for his true enjoyment came only a few practices in. My boy would rather watch than play, and so this is how we participated instead. And truly, I was totally okay with that.
I'm becoming okay with a lot of things I didn't ever think I would just be 'okay' with. It is a long journey to full acceptance, though, and one with which I will always wrestle. I think the line between acceptance and giving up a hope for him to be able to function at a higher level is a fine one.
Regardless, I will continue to build up each birthday with as much gusto and hype as I can muster. I will bake him his cake and put the candle he is not able to blow out himself on top. I will shower him with presents I am not entirely sure he will enjoy. And we will sing, and we will smile with true joy. Because we love him...No matter what.