|Carefree and on vacation in Strathmere, NJ ~ June 2011
Walking all the way home from the spot where the blog header photo was taken.
Dear Betty and Boo,
It’s somewhat of a trend here in this blogging world, to write a blog post as letter to one’s child on that child’s birthday.
I love the idea of this – this putting down in words one’s feelings about the child, the things that you’re into at this particular age, and the hopes and dreams one has for the coming year (and your life).
I was a lot better at doing this when we counted your age in months. Back then, these sorts of notes chronicling these every 30 days were easy (although many of those days were actually kind of hard). Now that you’re older, these types of letters are actually one of the hardest things for me to write.
(Maybe because I find myself starting to cry, like I am now.)
But this year I’m going to try and do this, because this year is different.
This year – today! – you are 10.
Today, as I have so often and especially on your birthday, my mind is replaying those very early touch-and-go days of the NICU, of getting to know you. Back then, we just trying to make it through some very tough days. (Perhaps it was a way of preparing us for the many tough days that would await us.)
In those early days (the ones filled with the NICU songs, and then the ones filled with the baby paraphenalia that we toted everywhere, and then the ones filled with the signs of the autism that would soon make its presence very much known) this day seemed so very far, far away. I remember meeting other moms with twins, and if their children were older, I’d say, “Oh, so they really do eventually become [fill in the blank with 5, or 8, or 10].”
Yes. Yes, they do.
And so, you are.
You’re 10 today and I admit it, I love this age. These last few years (challenging as they often have been) have been among my favorites because both of you still have the wonder of a child while beginning to take your first steps towards finding yourselves in the world. You still haven’t put away all childish things (and in some ways, I hope you never do) but you’re asking more questions, exploring new ideas, and that is a fascinating thing to watch- even though it means that we know it won’t be long before you take even more steps away from us.
You’re 10 today, and among the most amazing things to see at this age are the glimmers of the grown ups you will become. I can absolutely see you, Betty, going to veterinary school and opening your own practice. You have such a gentle rapport and caring nature with all animals that it often astounds me – and the fact that you realize now, at 10 years old, what your passion is and what you need to do in order to follow your dream of being a vet is incredible to watch.
Because you see, many people go their entire lives without discovering something that ignites their soul the way that caring for animals fuels yours. Today, my birthday wish for you, my beautiful and smart baby girl, is that you never lose sight of your dreams and your passion. Perhaps your dreams will change (although, I don’t think they will) but no matter what, keep dreaming big. Keep believing that you have the power to save every orca in the oceans, because you know what? You do.
And Boo, my beautiful blue-eyed Boo, your creativity with your cartooning and your stories is something that I am so very proud of. I know I often don’t pay attention to your latest drawings or the videos you’re constantly making us watch online, but I promise you this, my beautiful boy – I’m going to start paying more attention. Because as much as you “hate school,” your teachers are right about something. You have a gift for storytelling infused by humor, and that is a wonderful thing. In these 10 years, I know our family hasn’t laughed as much as we should have – except for you. You love to laugh and you love to make others laugh.
Maybe you can re-teach us how to do that.
Because in the past 10 years, you – both of you – have both taught us so many things. There is no limit, I believe, to what you still have left to teach us. Especially these days, with all the challenges and changes that this past year has brought to our family.
Just the other day, I realized that you have lived in 5 different houses (in two different states) before turning 10. I didn’t live in five different places until my sophomore year of college.
For two 10 year olds (one who has autism), that’s a lot of change. But in adjusting to these changes as well as you have, you’ve taught us (your old parents) about resiliency, that we really can start over and that it doesn’t matter what we have, materially-speaking. You’ve taught us that we don’t need witches, love spells or riches; as long as we have each other, the other things have a way of working themselves out.
(Well, truth be told, a few more riches wouldn’t hurt.)
You’ve taught us the meaning of home, a concept that has changed a bit for us recently. But when you get right down to the heart of it, our idea of home remains the same as it was 10 years ago when we spent our days singing this Frank Sinatra tune to you, in the NICU, over and over and over again.
copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.