Sometimes, when I’m in the depths of motherhood, I feel like I might be the only one that has ever felt a certain way. But then I realise that it doesn’t really matter what family you’re in; single parenting, step-parenting, special educational needs parenting, surrogate parenting, foster parenting, adoptive parenting, LBGT parenting or just plain old bog standard parenting, we all feel the same triumphs and tribulations. They may just be to different things.
Very recently, my son was diagnosed with ausomeness. Nothing his Dad and I didn’t already suspect. The last twelve months have been hard. I’ve had a chronic low level grief for not having the ability to be able to automatically understand and connect with my son. I’ve had to work hard at it whilst the rest of the family stood and watched, just waiting for their turn to be able to connect.
I wanted to write down a few of his triumphs for him to hopefully look back on one day. It wasn’t until I started writing down the relationships that have been unfolding between him, his Dad and his sister that I truly felt it. The paradox of heartbreaking joy. I hadn’t realised how I ached for a lost companionship, especially that his sister could have been having with her brother. But it was never actually lost. I just hadn’t been able to see it for what it was. Here is the letter I have written:
It’s your Mum here. I wanted to give you an update on how you’re doing. Your Dad has a few words to say too.
You are now exactly two and a half. These last few months I have seen the sparkle in your eyes ignite a fire in your belly. It seems you have started to open the door to communication and this has opened your world up to new and wonderful possibilities.
You have discovered that if you point at something, you will generally get it. Unfortunately for me, this is usually at the crisp cupboard but I also take this as a general hunger cue. That and you raiding the fridge dragging out anything you can, carrying it triumphantly into the front room. I can (sometimes) distract you with a banana but on the whole, it’s all about the crumb covered fish products, monster munch and raisins. You did eat some butternut squash risotto the other day so hopefully those vitamins will last you out till the end of the month.
You have given me a name. A high pitched “DOR!” I like my name a lot. You have chosen this name out of your few sounds you like to make. I’ve always fancied myself as a Dor. You have named your Dad too. You have consistently called him “Dada” a number of times now and this has literally made him cry with happiness.
You instigate games. Your favourites are the Freeze Game and the Blowing On Your Tummy Game. The Freeze Game consists of me being dragged, usually by the neck of my jumper, into the garden whereby you shout “eeeeeeeee!” at me. This is your word for freeze and I know I have to copy and stand still. Then you make a roaring “dadadadadada” noise and I have to run and grab you, fling you upside down, tickle you and land you on your feet again. We run around in circles until you shout, “eeeeeeee!” and it starts all over again. The Blowing On Your Tummy Game is pretty self explanatory. However, you let us know you want this by pulling up your tshirt and sharply inhaling with a massive cheesy grin on your face, knowing that at any moment your body is going to be alive with tickles. Your giggles and squeals lift the roof. You have an insatiable appetite for tickles shouting “goooooo!” with all your might before collapsing into laughter again.
You have words. “Ah da” means all done. You use it to tell me when you have finished eating, when you want to get out of the bath and when you want me to pick you up. “Schrain” is your word for train, your favourite vehicle by far. “Lane” is plane, your second favouritest vehicle. “Car” your joint second favouritest vehicle. Basically, if it has wheels, it’s your favouritest.
You have signs. You sign thirsty when you want a drink. You occasionally point at your mouth when you want food. You are learning to use the sign to ask for help when you are stuck with something (normally something you shouldn’t be doing in your sister’s room. Shhh, don’t tell her that I let you play in there when she’s not around).
You have a bond with your sister. This has been the most magical of all things to watch materialise. Your sister loves you dearly. It was always heartbreaking to see her face when you didn’t reply to her morning greeting or reciprocate a cuddle she so desperately wanted. But she understands now. She understands you are different. She understands that you cannot use words yet but you are learning and she is happy to help teach you. She can be scared of you at times. You still take a lot of your frustrations out on her but her patience and understanding through her tears makes my heart ache. Her beauty is beyond bounds and I think you know it. You follow her lead, clearly not getting the same joy from an activity without her. You embrace her with a love that I know you feel deep down. I don’t think she really knows how much she means to you yet, but she will. In the meantime, I will continue to watch you two grow together and feel pride that I never knew I could feel.
You’re spreading your love outwards to your Dad too. He feels the bond between you is flourishing and it fills his heart when you sidle up to him for a cuddle on the sofa. You have special things that only he does with you. Like riding on the back of his bike with your new bike seat. You don’t like it when it’s stationary but it doesn’t take long for Dad to get up to great speed, blasting your face with gusts of air. He hopes to take you on many great adventures on that bike. Your Dad loves having you as his co-driver, watching you thrust your hand out the window the moment it is wound down to feel the cold wind on your fingertips. Or watching you sleep, mouth gaping wide open as you succumb to the warmth and motion of the car.
You’re amazing, Ted, and you’re about to embark on a new adventure. You’ll be starting at a special place where wonderful people will continue to help you thrive and blossom. Your sister too is starting her own adventure into school, on a different path to enlightenment. You’ll miss her, your sidekick.
I’ll end this update now by saying keep up the good work, Mister! It’s an absolute pleasure getting to know you and all your funny little ways. You fascinate and inspire me all at the same time. I also want to say thank you. Thank you to both you and your sister because ultimately, we really don’t care what either of you turn out to be, we are just so proud of who you both are.
With all our love, now and always,
Dor & Dada