Tomorrow is a special day.

Tomorrow, Howie turns five.

So many of my posts are filled with how difficult life is for him.  How his autism and sensory processing disorder cause everyday activities to be so challenging.

Not today.

I have a feeling I’ll be a bit busy tomorrow managing the whole birthday thing.  So while I have a corn-free cake cooking in the oven today, I thought I’d tell you all the amazing things about my son.  What makes him a rock star.  And what makes me proud to be his mom.

  • He has the most amazing giant brown eyes, and when he looks at you, you get lost in them.
  • His passion for Hot Wheels cars is unmatched.  He knows every single one that we have in the house.  We have a lot.
  • His memory is impeccable.  Ask him what rides we did at Storyland last summer and he’ll tell you them all and where they are in the park.  Ask him what happened at his birthday party last year when the lady forgot about our party and the doors were locked.  Ask him where all the satellite dishes are in our town.
  • His laugh is contagious.  When he giggles, everyone else around starts giggling too.
  • His teachers love him.  Actually, any adult that has met him loves him.  He draws you in immediately without any pretenses.  And will call you on your crap in an instant.
  • He loves his family above all else.  He shows it with these giant squeezy hugs that go on forever and ever.
  • (from my husband) He is always happy and positive, and willing to play at anything.
  • He has the greatest names for things.  Our recliner is “the green chair”.  Pita bread is “the bread that we had at my friend Stevie’s party.”
  • His imagination is amazing.  He can create elaborate racetracks for his Hot Wheels cars and fantastic stories to go along with the track setup.
  • He doesn’t exclude anyone, and will stand up for his friends when they are in trouble.
  • Every kid in his class knows his name.
  • He is totally rocking the 3T pants now.
  • He yells at his older brother when he forgets to flush the toilet.
  • His mind works in the most amazing ways, and has such a curiosity about life.  He can stare for hours at the pipes in under our sink or at his school, and he’s actually thinking about where all the water goes and what happens to it after it leaves the pipes.
  • He wanted to wait until his birthday to open his presents that arrived early because it wasn’t his actual birthday day.  And that he wanted to thank the “mail lady” for delivering the package to him.
  • Every night, as he’s falling asleep, I lay next to him in bed.  And the last thing he says before he falls asleep is always “I love you, too, Mom.”

And how have I changed in these five years?

  • I’ve learned that patience is more than a virtue.  It’s a skill that needs to be practiced over and over again. But the rewards are amazing.
  • I no longer judge.  Anyone.  Ever.  (or at least out loud)
  • He’s shown me the beauty in the little things: to slow down for a walk to pick up an acorn or to take the long way home to hear the end of a song.
  • He’s introduced me to some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.  People who I want to have as friends.  People who understand and accept us for us.
  • I now celebrate the accomplishments in our own time, not because some book told us when it was supposed to happen.
  • I try to use the words “child-appropriate”, instead of “age-appropriate”.
  • I have learned that there’s nothing better than a hug out of love.
  • He helped me find my voice – here on this blog and with other newly diagnosed parents.
  • He’s shown me that the most important job we can have as a parent is to be our child’s best advocate.  To speak for them when they cannot.  And to fight to the end to get them the help they need.

And above all else…

  • He has made me a better wife, mother, and friend.  I would not be the person I am today had this gift not entered my life five years ago.

Happy Birthday to my little man.

smiling at Storyland

People see me
I’m a challenge to your balance
I’m over your heads
How I confound you and astound you
To know I must be one of the wonders
Of God’s own creation
And as far as you can see you can offer me
No explanation

O, I believe
Fate smiled and destiny
Laughed as she came to my cradle
Know this child will be able
Laughed as she came to my mother
Know this child will not suffer
Laughed as my body she lifted
Know this child will be gifted
With love, with patience and with faith
She’ll make her way” – Wonder by Natalie Merchant

(this post was inspired by my friend Stimey, who asked a few of us to share our favorite things about our kids.  Her kids are rock stars too…)