As I walked the aisles of the famed “Stuff-mart” early this morning by myself (a very rare occasion indeed) I had time to reflect on some things. When I checked out, a young mother was in front of me with two children. One child was an engaging young toddler with huge dancing eyes and a smile that would knock your socks off. The mother looked a bit harried, as most moms of youngsters do. I somehow felt the need to impart “mature” advice to her. I simply smiled at her baby and then at her and told her to enjoy those precious baby years as much as she could because the babies grow up so fast and before you know it, time is up. Perhaps it was the hitch in my voice, but the mother looked at me, cocked her head to the side, and very solemnly said she would. Her baby reached for me and shattered my tender heart to pieces.
You see, eight years ago, we celebrated his 1st birthday with us. Like all new parents, we had dreams and goals and expectations for his future. How differently things have turned out. If anyone would have told me that we would be dealing with an oppositionally defiant autistic child, part of me I would have laughed in their face. The other part would have run away as fast I could. “They” told us he had ADD/ADHD. “They” told us that if we just loved him, everything would be ok. “They” lied.
Mothering this child has been one of the hardest things I have ever done, yet one of the most rewarding. Who would have thought that I needed to learn special holds to protect him and me? Who would have thought there would have been rages and screaming fits that lasted for hours? Who would have thought that during his screaming how much he hated me, sometimes I just didn’t like him so much either? Who would have thought he would destroy just about everything he was given. Who would have thought there was so much anger inside? Who would have thought that there was such a tender spot inside a broken heart? Who would have thought that babies and animals would flock to him? Who would have thought that he was so shy and insecure? Who would have thought that he could be so funny? Who indeed?
There have been times over the last 8 years I wanted to quit. In fact, I think a couple of times, I did. But the next morning we both dragged ourselves out of bed and started all over again. There were times that I dreamt about today. This day when we could set him free. There were times I dreaded this day when he could walk away and I couldn’t do a thing about it. There were times I cried myself to sleep worrying about his future and what he would become. But he’s come so far. It’s a struggle everyday for him. He’s learning to deal with the things that slow him down (but don’t stop him). He’s decided to take a few things seriously and try his best to succeed. It’s going to be a hard road, but looking at the roads he’s already travelled, I know he can do this. He’s blossoming into the person he was meant to be. Someone who can set the world on fire.
He doesn’t remember his past and I can’t help him with it because I wasn’t there. He didn’t want a mom but he got one. He doesn’t know his future will be, but I long to be there.
Happy 18th birthday my “first born adopted” son. I love you.