He smiles. Every day.
If I could go back to the day I heard, “your son is developmentally delayed; he may have autism,” I would tell myself that he smiles… every day. He’s happy. He’s so smart, and he loves. He may be delayed, but he’s progressing. I would tell myself all the positive things he’s doing and that he’s going to do. I would tell myself to try and not stress because in the end, it makes it so much worse. I’d tell myself it could be worse. You’ve got this. You’ve already done this. You can do this.
You see, my son just had his 3rd birthday. He’s seen a pediatric special needs team: occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech therapist, psychologist, ears nose and throat specialist, audiologist, pediatrician, neurologist and geneticist. He’s had an EKG, sweat tests, genetic testing and he’s on a waiting list for an MRI. He didn’t walk until he was 2, and he often struggles to keep his balance or run. He’s just learning to talk.
But the part that matters is he smiles, laughs and loves — every day. He looks me in the eye and says “Wu you” for “love you.” He doesn’t do things quite as fast as his peers, but with lots of help, he’s doing better. He knows he’s loved, and we’ve taught him to love back. That’s all I need. They say my son is special and nice. They have no idea just how true that is.
I know as he grows, things are going to be hard for him and for us. I cannot see what’s in store for him, but I know he’ll be taken care of. I won’t let the unknown hold us back.
Recently my son was having a bad morning, and going into daycare was looking like it was going to be awful. The tears and the clinging was starting. All of a sudden a little friend of his, who could see him crying, came over and held out his hand. That was all Ethan needed. A small gesture by a sweet 2-year-old boy. Off he went happy as can be. Made my morning.
I quit asking why I was given all this, and I’ve accepted that my son has made me worthy of looking after him. Nobody’s perfect. That’s the bottom line. Everyone has their struggles.
This whole journey with Ethan, and with my oldest son, Jack, has reminded me that this life was never ours to plan from the start. Everything is going to be OK. Because I have him, and he has me. I am his momma; my life is dedicated to making sure he thrives. My 3-year-old child is a gift; he’s beautiful, happy, full of life and fun to be around. And he smiles. Every day. That’s all I need to remind myself.
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