This past weekend my eldest son, the 2.5kg preemie that once fit into the crook of my arm turned 13… I’ll say that again THIRTEEEN as in a teenager as in 5 years until he is done with school and on his way into adulthood, how did we get here it seems like only yesterday I held aloft the 5th pee stick and shook to my core with both sheer excitement and terror, I was 18…. I think that every mother enters motherhood with a certain vision and expectations, as you go through your pregnancy you can picture your child’s first words and first steps, their first day of pre-school and then primary school, maybe even high school, their first girlfriend or boyfriend, their matric ball, results may vary but personally I had each and every one of these pictures go through my head at some stage or another, and as we have travelled our path, as my son has grown and as we have experienced both immense joy and struggles I have learned that many of this visions; much of what I envisioned will not and has panned out as I thought it would.
I never expected my son to speak full sentences albeit basic ones but still at the age of one, I never thought that he would be diagnosed with ADHD, and then ASD and then OCD and so forth, I never expected to make the choice to put my son on medication and to be forced into removing him from mainstream schooling, I never expected to see him struggle so much and to navigate through so much pain….
When I envisioned his 13th birthday I pictured the 13th birthdays that I attended as well as my own, a few friends a disco in the garage… ok maybe not a disco I knew times would change but hosting a birthday during a Pandemic is not what I expected, nor did I expect that we would be home-schooling and that my sons level of social interaction would be so small, when he started dancing again he expressed to me excitedly how he wanted to invite a few of his dance mates to his birthday… that was months ago and we went into lockdown before I even had the chance to exchange numbers with parents or for him to forge any meaningful relationships, they were there and for the first time in a long time he fit in with at least a few of the people around him but Covid hit and it wasn’t to be.
It makes me sad, but truth be told at the end of the day I think the pain and loss I felt was just as much for the visions that I had and lost as the pain I THOUGHT he would experience.
In short my son had a wonderful day, a day he shared with those who love him and have traveled this journey with us, he wasn’t lacking in the department of spoils and experience and that is what is important, many times as parents I think we need to shift our train of thought to understand that what we envision doesn’t always come to fruition and that’s ok.
We had pancakes with enough chocolate to make you sick for breakfast, I took him to choose his gifts and we then had tea and cake with a very small family group i.e. my parents, my brother and my future sil, we ended off the day with pizza and a movie picked by the birthday boy, we played board games; we laughed… we cried, in my sons words “it was perfect”… and it was!
I don’t know what the future holds, I don’t know where we will go, what my son will do and how he will grow; mentally, emotionally and everything in between. I do know that as a mother he has made me so incredibly proud in so many ways and that the joy that we have experienced is worth every struggle and every bend in the road that we have and probably will still face.