In three short days, my son will be seven. SEVEN! How did this happen?? I can remember when making it to seven days was an accomplishment. Then seven months; that was just four days after he finally came home from the hospital. I never imagined what this would be like when it finally arrived; I wasn't sure I could think that far ahead.
The thing is, he doesn’t know he’s having a birthday; he doesn’t understand how incredibly significant this milestone is. He won’t miss the cake or the party; he doesn’t grasp that the brightly colored paper-wrapped packages are tributes to his indomitable spirit and his engaging smile. He won’t miss the fact that his classmates in his very small, highly-specialized program don’t know it’s his birthday, either. In fact, I’d venture a guess that few of them are more than vaguely aware of his presence except when they share space in the swimming pool at the end of each school day.
I’ve spent the better part of the past few days mired in grief over the lack I perceive around this birthday: the lack of a party, the lack of friends, the lack of awareness of what a birthday even means —especially when each birthday has been so hard won. In fact, just tonight, I sobbed on my husband’s chest (he’s such a great sport and loving spouse), lamenting the fact that our son’s birthday marks the end of my Pollyanna-ish notions that he would somehow, miraculously catch up.
Somewhere in between the weeping and wailing, the gnashing of my teeth and wringing of my hands, I had an epiphany. I confess, it was fueled in large part by an email from an amazingly generous woman whom I’ve never met. She gave me a gift —a very generous and very tangible gift— to share with my son as a way of thanking me for sharing our story and for openly sharing my love for my son. A gift! For sharing the greatest joy of my life —something I do every day for free! Her generosity and kind, supportive words helped me to turn my grief inside out; she helped me to recognize that, in honoring the gifts my son gives me every day, I, too, bestow gifts upon him.
For, what greater gift could I give my son than the deep and unfailing love I have for him, the unflagging belief I have in the possibilities which lay within him and before him? I give him those every day through my words, my actions and my beliefs. Sometimes they are gift-wrapped in hugs and kisses; sometimes they are actually wrapped in brightly colored paper.
I try my hardest to let my son know and feel just how special, how precious he is to me each and every day —not just on the anniversary of his birth.
Sometimes, there’s even cake.
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Niksmom (aka Beth) writes about life with her son, Nik, and husband, Niksdad, at Maternal Instincts: Flying by the seat of my pants.
“When we let go of hope fear wins. — Niksmom”