Monday, September 20, 2010

Since the First Year

So, Henry's dad is a real find. The day we met he was handsome and kind and smart as a whip. Moments into our first conversation, I ended up blustering something about justice and winning an argument. Not much has changed.

The year Henry was born was a hard one. You might guess that a child that screams for the better part of 12 months would be hard on a marriage. You’d be right. It’s actually a little bit like being tortured. And when you’re tortured, you can be convinced to do horrible things to people you love. Like forget how handsome, kind, and smart they are. And you bluster something about justice and win an argument because “I don’t DESERVE this!”

I’ve learned a little bit since that year. First of all, discussions of justice are best left to grad school and the U.N. Secondly, the screaming can get better. Henry’s occupational therapy helped tremendously toward a more peaceful life for all of us. Lastly, I’m pretty sure that the way you treat the people in your home might just be the most important thing you do in this life.

No one would be surprised to hear that a toddler with SPD has tired parents who don’t have a lot of carefree weekends in Tahiti. But here’s the super special secret about being married to someone who raises a kid who has never said his own name or eaten a meal the size of which would be appropriate for a small rodent; He GETS it.

People who love the same things often have an instant connection and understanding. Henry’s dad knows me perfectly because we love the same difficult, beautiful, complex, and screaming little boy. So we keep trying. To know and be known. To love and be loved. Everything else is just blustering.

[This post was originally written for SPD Foundation blog]

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Little Bit Perfect

The other day, I found myself saying something unbelievable as I explained SPD to a new friend. It went something like this, "You know, it's actually a little bit hard to identify Henry's particular symptoms these days." WHAT??!?

Some folks asked me how the first day of preschool went. I'd say it was a little bit perfect. There were no tears at drop-off- Oh wait, that's not true, I was crying a river and spontaneously hugged a kind looking stranger woman who was walking past. Henry met a friend whose name he can pronounce perfectly and is excited to go back tomorrow. The teacher's only concern was that he hadn't eaten snack-Ha! Get used to it.

We are living in a parallel universe lately, where a little boy that lives in our house speaks a language that sounds a little bit like English, knows other children who he plays with, and even takes baths. See the photo above entitled Hey, I'll Try Anything To Get This Kid Clean. That night, it took wearing a winter hat for him to be happy in the tub. No problem.

I'm the type who believes in God. And I know a lot of people who asked God to help Henry out. For some reason, it's a little bit hard to believe that maybe we're over the worst of it. And maybe we're not (believe me, I'm no happy clappy everything's victorious and don't you know we're all going to be fine type of God believer, although I guess if you've ever read this blog, you know that by now).

But tonight, as I look at Henry falling asleep, I have this teary idea that he is absolutely perfect. And I'm going to go ahead and say thanks either way. Thanks for making him a little bit less afraid. A little bit less alone. Thanks for giving me this little boy. The one who says something that sounds a little bit like I love you. And I ask myself, don't you know we're all going to be fine?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Letter to Henry on the first day of preschool

It's not easy to let you go into the world. I've spent a lot of time protecting you, explaining you, sadly sometimes hiding you away in a safer place. But it seems that today is the day you start a bit of your journey without me.

Let me start by saying that you make this world richer and fuller. Sometimes I feel like you're my heart walking around on this planet. That every one of your bumps and bruises hits me full in the chest and every one of your struggles drags me out of bed and sends me to work in the quarry without enough sleep, head throbbing with more than enough wine. But what would I be without a bruised heart? Not full. Not human.

Let me also tell you that you have an enviable heart. It moves with all you have, with equal parts love and fury. But your spirit is infectious, and people are drawn to you, and you are loved. Don't hesitate to share yourself with others. I echo what your sister advised last night. "If someone says hello, say hello back." Even if you can't say your L's yet.

Let me end by saying that you are exactly as you were meant to be. That every bit of you was designed with purpose, with intent, and with grace. That your bumps and bruises and struggles are part of your story, and that until I belong to the ages, I will undoubtedly be here after each one.

We are yours.

Love, mama