Friday, August 10, 2012

Of Birthdays and Balloons

This is my third birthday spent here at Hopeful Parents, my third August 10th post, and the 2-year anniversary of my beginning to write for this site.

I wanted to have something lovely and momentous to say, but of course life is squashing me beyond flat right now. It's not so much my special needs kids, but rather my very elderly, now wheelchair bound mother, that is the source of all-consuming care-taking presently.

So much so that I missed my post here last month, for the first time in two years. (I have been late before, but never skipped entirely.) Determined to remedy that, I am sitting down at this computer and not getting up until SOMETHING appears on the page.

By the time next month rolls around I will (hopefully) have successfully transitioned my mother completely into the "permanent resident" side of the care facility she has been doing her sub-acute rehab time at these past six weeks.  This means reducing her worldly belongings from a stuff-packed one bedroom apartment down to about two suitcases, give or take a few cubic feet.

And there will continue to be a lot of back and forth, to and from Long Island, 2 to 3 times a week, to visit with my mother. She is so lonely.

Next month the kids will both be back in school, and structure - or the semblance of something like it - will once more reign in our lives. But until then, I will be muddling through the chaotic jungle that is a whole MONTH of no school in my autistic son, Jacob's life.

With all that's going on I'm finding it hard to find my "hopeful," to find something to write about being the parent to special needs kids that skews towards the positive and inspirational. Because I will NOT use this space to merely whine. (That's what my OWN blog is for.)

So, I offer here a little something, slight wisp that it may be, of what is lovely about Jacob and parenting him:

Jacob and balloon

Jacob has always loved balloons. Since he was a little boy.

If he sees one he wants it, begs for it.

And then, once he has it?

Smiles one of his giant, super happy, near maniacal grins.

And sets it free.

Since he was a little boy.

Ethan used to hoard balloons, bring them home, cry the next morning upon finding them diminished, shrunken, no longer straining at the ceiling.

But Jacob?

Has always gotten such joy at loosening them into the sky, watching them fly away.

When he was three years old with very little original language, he would summon up fresh words to say "Bye-bye, balloon!" And even wave.

Then he began to ask those rhetorical questions he is so fond of: "What happened to the balloon, Mommy?" ("You let it go, it's flying away.")

"Where is it going, Mommy?" ("Up up into the sky, Jakey.")

And now they get more complex: "How high is it going, Mommy, how high is the sky?" ("Very high, Jake, the sky goes all the way up, but the balloon will pop before it gets into outer space.")

But still, the joy.

Always the joy.

And as I contemplate my very earthbound life right now, I am calling up these moments with Jacob, ever grateful that my son is capable of such happiness, that he is, at heart, a joyful boy.

And I need to remember that sometimes when I want to hold tight to things, that there can be infinitely more joy is letting them go, watching them fly away.

(And there might just be a metaphor for watching my children growing up here, and my needing to take wisdom from my son, loosening my hold a bit, letting them soar.)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Varda writes about "birth, death and all the messy stuff in the middle" on her blog "The Squashed Bologna: a slice of life in the sandwich generation"  She also tweets as @Squashedmom. Varda is proud to be a Hopeful Parent.


  1. I have a balloon release lovin kid, he never wanted to keep them he always wanted to release them. I will think of you Monday as I go to Long Island to see my elderly Mom on Monday

  2. My son, also autistic, also so joyful, releases balloons immediately, as well. There is something magical, and hopeful, about that process. Beautiful post.

  3. Envisioning your son releasing balloons with such verve and joy just made me smile. This is beautiful. So poignant.