Today, on C’s 9th birthday, long after all the gift wrap was trashed, the cards were strewn around the floor, and the cupcakes were all eaten (by the other kids, that is), I thought about how far we’ve come. How far C has come. From a premature and deathly ill infant so overwhelmed by life itself he couldn’t tolerate the noise of his own toys – to a loud, rambunctious, keeping-up-with-the-best-of-them boy at his own party, C’s journey has been a wild ride.
There were still snapshots of autism at C’s party – had I captured a picture of C bending over to lick the frosting off his cupcake because he didn’t want to touch it and pick it up. Or perhaps it would have been obvious in a picture of C and his best friend taken two seconds after C told his friend not to touch him anymore. Or maybe it would have been clear in a picture of C playing with the girls because the boys had probably gotten just a little bit too loud and rambunctious.
Probably what was most obvious, however, was the picture someone could have taken of me. No longer did I feel as though I needed to be right in the middle of things in order to protect C and protect others from his “enthusiasm.” He was surrounded by his friends, he was safe, and he was having fun. Morever, so was everyone else. In that moment, I realized how much has changed for me. In the midst of all this chaos that has been my life for the last nine years, there was calm. Entire minutes went by where I didn’t even know where C was or what he was doing. And he was fine.
Even better, I was fine.