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A Birthday Letter to my 8 year old

Normally, I reserve my February through April blogs for our fundraising efforts with the March of Dimes…in other words, they’re all about Ryley and our experience with his premature birth.  However, today is Little Man’s 8th birthday, and deserving of his own post…..Where are my tissues? I feel the tears forming already.

 

Dear Ethan –

Today, you’re eight years old. Where does it go? I remember so clearly the morning of the day of your birth. I stood in the parking lot outside of that hospital, watching the sun rise over the mountains behind it, knowing the next time I was outside, our lives would have changed again.  I remember as much of your birth day as I do of your brother’s and sister’s birth days.  It was long, but it was peaceful for the most part. I was ecstatically happy. You had been my  healing pregnancy.  You would be my healing baby. A delivery on my terms, rather than dictated by prematurity, or an ignorant, lazy nurse.  A third-time mom, I was unafraid of newborn you. This was old hat now.  I was calm. Granted we had a few scary moments that day…..the cord was wrapped around your neck. We came within minutes of an emergency c-section. You had some junk in your lungs and had to spend some time in the nursery being monitored and suctioned.  But those were small bumps in the road.  You were here. Our family was now complete. I was in heaven.

The past year has been a very rough road for us. For so long, I felt a failure as your mother. I didn’t know how to make you be like other kids, even like  your siblings. You are so much harder.  My prickly porcupine baby…..it has been so hard the last twelve months.  I wanted to much for you to outgrow your immaturity and be normal. I believe I needed you to be like everyone else, because if you weren’t, then maybe you wouldn’t be my “healing baby” any longer. I fought against there being any firm diagnosis or reason for your struggles. I was doing you, and myself, a serious disservice.

And here we are. You have those letters attached to your name. They have not, however, changed you. They help define your behavior and way of seeing things, but they do not define YOU. I have a tolerate/hate relationship with those letters. They put us on the path to getting you what you need to learn to navigate this world more successfully, but I hate we are on this path at all.  But here we are. This is part of your journey.

My precious baby….I want you to find joy and happiness in your life, not as I might define it, but as you need.  I heard this morning the song “I Hope You Dance.”  How fitting.  I am learning that your dance may be different, the music you hear not the same as what others hear. But dance away, love. Take this path you’re on and make it your own.  There are going to be mountains to challenge you. But there are also going to be meadows and beaches of calm.  Face each with all the energy inside of you. Others may look at you strangely. Don’t let that get to you. I’m learning we don’t have to have everyone’s understanding. We know who we are, why we are. That’s what matters.

Happy Birthday, Ethan. I am so proud of you, and I love you beyond words.

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