Today is my sweet Easton’s 4th birthday.
There is so much I want to tell him.
This post is for him. I will read it to him…even though I’m sure he will carry on with whatever he’s doing at the time, whether that is playing with his slinky, throwing the foam letter “X” (yes, just the X) down the stairs repeatedly, pushing the button on his favorite musical toy and running to the next room to listen to it, or imitating facial expressions of all of the people in photos on the iPad…and he probably won’t even look up at me. But, I will read it to him anyway. I’m hoping someday, he will be able to read it himself.
My Dear, Sweet Easton:
I believe you were brought into my life for a reason.
You are so many things. You are different, you are fascinating, you are charming, you are exceptional, you are silly, you are mysterious, you are curious, you are SO DAMN FUNNY, you are also SO DAMN STUBBORN, you are intelligent, you are incredible, you are affectionate, you are loving, you are unique.
You have one of the most infectious smiles I have ever seen. Your laugh makes me laugh.
And your big brown eyes when they well up with tears? They make my eyes well up with tears. (Yes. I know. Moms are supposed to be tough. I’m not so tough when I see your sad eyes.)
You test my patience every single day. Because of this, I have learned that I actually have more patience than I thought was possible. Sometimes, though, I just don’t seem to have enough. Those times are on my bad days. The days when I am not at my best. The days when I have weak moments. The days when I raise my voice at you and say, “I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU WANT.” This is when I’m feeling selfish. I just want you to be able to talk to me. Sometimes, I forget that no one is probably more frustrated about this than you…and on my selfish days, I take that out on you. It’s not fair, I know. For that, I’m sorry.
I wish I could crawl inside your brain and just hang out for a while. I wish I could see the world the same way you do, even for a minute. I wish I could stop to enjoy the little things like you do. I wish I could get the same amount of joy out of something as simple as tapping on a leaf, or how a handful of gravel looks when you let it fall right in front of your eyes, or watching a colorful slinky tumble down the staircase, or swinging the string from the window blinds back and forth (over and over and over and over) to listen to the little plastic pieces hit the wall, or even your own hands. You intrigue me. You have a perspective that no one else does.
You don’t know what the word “autism” means yet. I don’t know when, but I do think you will understand, at some point, that you have autism. I don’t want you to feel like it defines you. Yet, I want you to understand that it’s a part of who you are. I believe you will teach countless people about what it means to accept people for who they are, no matter what their differences may be. I have no doubt that you will touch the lives of many (and that you already have). You are already considered the “charmer” in your preschool class. This doesn’t surprise me one bit. You are one of the most charismatic people I know.
You have an amazing big brother. I know he bugs you, and yes, I’m certain he does it on purpose sometimes. (I have two big brothers. Believe me. It’s on purpose sometimes.) I know you get irritated. But…sometimes, when he’s bugging you, he is honestly just trying to love you. When he touches your arm or leans in for a hug, or gets in your face like he has been doing literally since the day you were born…I know he is trying to connect with you.
I’ve noticed you have started to let him get closer to you, and it makes me teary-eyed every time I see even a tiny connection happening. I see you becoming slightly more patient with him, and I love that. He’s trying to understand you, just like the rest of us are. You will only have one big brother for the rest of your life. This I know: he will always be there for you.
There will also be people you encounter in your life that will not be there for you. They will make fun of you. They will call you names. They will exclude you. They won’t understand you. They won’t accept you. They will be intolerant and ignorant. They might make you wish you were not so different. These are the people who don’t want to get to know you as a person. This is definitely their loss. I wish everyone could see how remarkable you are. Please, please, please know that you have an incredible number of people in your corner. There are people who want to be a part of your world. You are not alone.
I see determination and perseverance in you. You will accomplish anything you set your mind to. That stubbornness I mentioned already? That is a strength, not a weakness. That stubbornness that makes me want to pull my hair out some days? Without a doubt, that will help you succeed.
I don’t know what your future holds, but I do know, with every fiber of my being, that you will have a positive and resonating impact on the people who choose to wholeheartedly accept you into their world, while also doing their best to understand and be a part of yours.
And right now, I am doing my best to understand your world. Every day, you teach me something new. Every day, you surprise me.
Every day, you make me proud to be your mom.
You make me proud because you are teaching me patience. You are teaching me kindness. You are teaching me determination. You are teaching me strength. You are teaching me that it’s wonderful to be different. (Who wants to be “normal” anyway? Not me.)
My dear, sweet Easton, I’m wishing you the happiest of days today, on your 4th birthday.
And, since you echo everything I say, I will end this letter by echoing you: