A Letter to My Son on his 19th Birthday

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Nineteen years ago, we had a moment together, you and I. There was a gentle hush of pre-dawn silence in the hospital nursery and we slowly glided back and forth in a rocking chair in the corner of the room. I spoke softly as I nursed you, marveling at your sweet, tiny perfection. Your blue eyes widened with a sparkle as you looked up at me, and then suddenly stopped suckling to smile. Hi Mommy.

My heart clenched. Time stood still in that precious moment of soul-to-soul connection – the two of us gazing upon one other with awe, adoration and love. I remember feeling blanketed by this warm, haloed glow of joy, knowing with every fibre of my being that you were an extraordinary gift.

You have celebrated 19 birthdays since that morning, and I can’t help but think back on the journey we have been on together. It has not been easy, not by a long shot, and you and I were given more to handle than I ever dreamed we could manage. But we never had to manage alone; we always had each other to get through it.

We’ve faced our share of challenges from the very beginning, starting when they whisked you away to the neonatal intensive care unit on your birth day. All the medical professionals reassured me you’d be fine, yet the only thing I could comprehend was that I couldn’t hold you. And then, three years later, delving head first into an autism diagnosis. No medical professional would reassure me that you’d be fine, yet the only thing I could comprehend was that I would move heaven and earth to give you everything you needed to thrive and succeed.

That included giving you a home you could feel safe and secure in. I tried my best, I really did. When Dad left, my primary concern was for you and your sister and how we would get through the heartbreak. One day, our family was intact and the next, the only life we’d known was shattered. It was so unfair. In that first year, I did everything to the best of my ability to reassure your stability, but I know that I am not your father. Boys need their dads, and as much as he disappointed you when you needed him the most, I know you looked up to yours. I am sorry I could not protect you from experiencing that kind of confusion and pain. I am sorry that I could not give you the family you deserved.

I’m not sure you fully comprehend what happened that day or understand why your whole world was suddenly turned upside down, and that’s okay. In a way, that may have safeguarded your good-heartedness. Whether or not you know it, your innocence and your resilience in that time gave me strength too.

All you knew was that I was very sad for a time (you still don’t like to see me cry, even if only happy tears) and you gave me extra love, care and protection. You amazed me with your capacity for compassion and for that I am ever grateful. When I was in my darkest place, imagining horrible means of retaliation to express how much hurt your dad caused, it was thinking of you that brought me back from those depths. I would remember the two of us in that nursery rocking chair, your gurgly smile and shining eyes looking up at me, and I immediately knew I couldn’t possibly do anything to myself that would cause you additional pain.

Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life wrote the Greek playwright Sophocles. It’s so true. Being reminded of the special connection that tethers us has saved me and kept me grounded on many occasions. It is a testament to the gift you are.

You may no longer be the curly-haired little boy who wanted to bring a mountain of stuffed animals into my bed to watch cartoons and snuggle, but I love that from time to time, you still choose to go someplace or do something with me. Just the two of us. I cherish these days more than you realize.

I see you growing in confidence and braving newfound independence while remaining the remarkably kind, considerate person you were born to be. You are so helpful, thoughtful and witty, and nothing makes you happier than making others smile. While we will have more challenges ahead, know that I will be by your side to help you get through them.

You have made me laugh and you have made me think, but most of all, you have made me proud and grateful to be your mom. Surely, it’s no coincidence that your birthday and Mother’s Day fall in the same week.

You are simply awesome to me in every way, my bright, beautiful son. I still marvel in awe, adoration and love when I look at you, and you will always fill my heart with joy.

Happy Birthday with Love, 

Mom

The Birthday Blog

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This week, the blog turned one and I turned 46.

When I first started this project, I was in need of some renewal and purpose in the post-holiday season. January is a cold and depressing month, and even though it’s my birthday, I seem to be ultra-sensitive to everyone’s grumbling which makes me susceptible to the blahs.

But January is also the beginning of a new year and a good time for a fresh start, so I went in search of a new creative pursuit. I had always thought about starting my own blog but couldn’t come up with a worthy theme. Up until 12 months ago, it hadn’t even occurred to me that I had plenty of material to mine in my own backyard.

A few people suggested I write about the things I’d been dealing with since my divorce, but I had been avoiding it for fear of reliving the pain – which had subsided but not altogether disappeared. As I revisited the journal I kept after my marriage ended, I realized that grief still had a stranglehold on me. It was preventing me from fully opening up and allowing myself to be vulnerable in many aspects of my life – in my relationships, in my work and in my writing.

So I started this blog as a way to work through my layers of “stuff” and to hopefully find and accept the reason for my divorce. As Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

As those dots began to connect, I started to truly understand how cathartic it was to talk about what I’d experienced. And then an amazing thing happened. Other people reached out to me with their stories. Some said they could relate my musings to their own lives, even if they had not gone through a divorce. I also discovered a community of fellow bloggers and found comfort and kinship in how they shared their “stuff” too.

Over the past year, writing about my divorce has taught me about letting go, moving on and finding gratitude – but it’s your support, kindness and encouragement that has really been transformative. Thank you for helping me to find purpose and meaning where there was once only darkness. Dear readers – you too, are a gift. I am not sure which direction the blog will take in the year ahead, but I am looking forward to the journey even if that means revisiting the past. I hope you will join me.