May 16, 2013

Turning Ten

Posted in AMT's Faves, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , at 2:08 pm by autismmommytherapist

Xmas 2012 020

My son is ten today.

It’s early in the morning on Mother’s Day, and I’ve woken with the roosters not because I want a jump-start on the day (I’d never give up sleep for that), but because I’ve managed to contract my annual bout with bronchitis on the very weekend I should be celebrating my anniversary, the birth of my eldest son, and the high holy day of mothers.

Before I begin to write I check to make sure both of my progeny are still deep in slumber (lucky for them, they are), and I shuffle back to the computer, conceding to my Puritan ancestry’s need to accomplish something.

It’s difficult for me to believe that I’ve been doing both the mom and the autism gig for a decade now, although the lines on my face from worry attest to the trials and tribulation of the last ten years. This family has come through fire, two states, a half dozen school placements, dozens of doctors, and yet we’re still here (hallelujah!), and on most days, intact and happy.

I always feel sentimental on Justin’s birthday, being that he is the child who made me a mom, but today seems special. It’s not just that it’s Mother’s Day, and I am mature enough not to mind sharing my day with my boy. It’s that we’re in double digits now, and that seems significant, even earth shaking.

My son is ten today.

I think I hear his familiar “eeee!” resounding down the hall, so I slip silently to his room and enter into the pitch darkness he craves, and wait for my eyes to adjust. I’ve imagined his cry, instead am witness to my son buried in blankets twisted around his body, only his face shining out to me from under cotton and cloth.

There seems to be a hint of a smile on his sonambulent countenance, the wisp of anticipation for the day to come. My boy knows something’s up as last night I asked him if he wanted his birthday presents the next day, and I was treated to a resounding head nod of such force I worried he’d strain his neck. He knows the drill now, expects good things will befall him.

He gets it.

Today his father and I will regale him with gifts, but the truth is the most important gift given today will be his presence, his place on this earth. Soon I will be called upon to clothe, feed, clean-up and exercise my general mommy duties, but for just a few moments more I plan to revel in my son, the wonder that is my boy.

My son is ten today.

I ponder the way he embraced his teacher during their post-Hurricane Sandy reunion, refusing to disengage from her embrace for the better part of an hour. I conjure up the image of his brilliant smile when his neighborhood “girlfriend” comes to call, his delight at her presence.

I think of the photos from the slideshow we saw at his school’s gala, the ones where he is so intensely focused on his teacher, so eager to learn. I remember his pride at learning to “steer” his horse, how he sat straighter in the saddle each time he went past me, his proud gaze locking eyes with mine.

I feel gratitude for the boy who tolerates his brother’s exuberant nature, who accepts the hugs and tugs that comprise his relationship with his younger sibling. I envelop myself in the glory that is his “nighttime self”, the satisfied grin and kiss he bestows on me every night prior to slumber, letting me know he did indeed have a good day. I recall the first time I held him, this hard-won longed-for babe, and the way his fingers grabbed mine so tightly I thought he’d never let go.

In many ways, he hasn’t. Yet in the most important ways, thankfully, he has.

The strident strains of “eeee!” are now clearly resounding down our hallway, and I hustle down the corridor to quiet him a bit, as his brother still sleeps. I enter his room and am embraced before my eyes have time to adjust, and I whisper “happiest of birthdays” to my boy, my pride, my love. He looks back at me with love as well, and takes my hand to begin what this year will be his day.

I pull him back for one more quick embrace as he will soon be on the move, more difficult to contain. I whisper “thank you for being my son Justin” and he briefly hugs me back, then escapes my grasp to move on to other things. I carry his warmth with me as I make my way to the guest bathroom, and smile.

My son is ten today.


  1. Jennifer Herrera said,

    Happy Birthday Justin!

  2. Amy Zav said,

    aw – the double digits! I, too, think it’s significant – even ‘earth shaking’!! Still 9 for one more month….

  3. Amy Rangel said,

    How poignant & just absolutely beautiful!

  4. Donna said,

    so beautifully written! Happy Birthday Justin and a very happy belated Mother’s Day to you.

  5. Chad said,

    I love this post.

  6. Cindy said,

    I hope you both had a wonderful day!

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