Dear Baby Bear:
Today you turn 6 years old. While it is so very, very hard for me to look back and see how fleeting our moments of your youth have been, I can also look back on them with such a warm pride in my heart. For as many obstacles we have faced together, I know there are so many more moments of success you will experience as you get older and spread your wings to fly.
When you were teeny, tiny you would never let me hold you. It was so hard on me as your Momma to not have a snuggling button who wanted to be with me all the time. I had no idea then that that would be just the beginning of the things to come. The challenges we would face together, the triumphs we would soar through...small ones that in the world's eye wouldn't even matter.
Not having a snuggly baby forced me to discover how God made you how He wanted you, not how I envisioned you to be. In truth, You have been the biggest obstacle in my lifetime. And in that, you have been the biggest blessing in my lifetime. And so it is with tears in my eyes that I want to thank you. I hope you can one day look back on this letter and read how what was a struggle to you helped me to be a better person, Christian, and hopefully Mother. And I have you to thank.
Thank you for teaching me the many, many ways to love. Snuggling was how I knew to love a baby. When that wasn't meant to be I sought other ways. You liked to be held away from my body so we could look at things together. Experiencing the sunrise outside your window together was how you wanted affection. Me just being with you in the same room was enough for you to know I loved you. I was here for you. And I wasn't going anywhere.
Thank you for teaching me that someone can know love even though they can't show it. When you were three years old you told me for the first time that you loved me. The tears flowed and I couldn't stop them...didn't want to stop them. And as much as those words meant to me, we both knew before that that you loved me. You taught me that I don't need to hear those words to know in my heart how someone feels about me.
Thank you for making me question God. I know that sounds strange but it is profoundly true. When we first found out you were Autistic my whole world came down. Literally. I couldn't get out of bed. I had family members telling me ways it was my fault. I had people telling me over and over that "God gives special kids to special mothers" and I thought it was crap. Pure garbage. I just remember thinking "why me God?" Why? I questioned why God would want me to be your Mom, how on earth he could ever find me qualified. How anyone could ever think I could do this. Your Daddy reminded me that there is nothing wrong with you, only different. And I slowly began to see how I need to align my view of you to God's, not try to force God's creation into a box I've designed with my worldly, sinner hands.
Thank you for drawing out my inner hidden passion. I can still remember the stinging words of hearing you being called a retard. Of seeing kids not want to play with you on the playground and the tears in yours eyes as you ran to me confused and sad. Of being called a maniac by a friend and your deep hurt you hid inside you. And to this day I still have that passion, that fire in my heart to fight for you. To be your advocate, your friend, your protector from bullies, big or small, in this world that can be so cruel. You were the first one to draw that spark out of me. To "Mommy Honey Badger" someone because they accosted my child. You showed me what I am capable of. What I can be capable of. What we can be capable of. What anyone with a voice and a passion and a cause worth fighting for can be capable of.
Thank you for teaching me that you really are better than everyone else. You may not be able to understand to not stand on the couch but you're the only one I've ever met that can still experience pure joy from standing on a couch every day for three years. You don't know how to filter what you say but you are also incapable of telling me a lie. You don't like evil. You protect your sister. You think it's funny to yell. You're smarter than anyone else I've ever met. You are faster than anyone else. And whatever you decide in your mind you can do, you do. I've never met anyone with the will and determination you have. Thank you for teaching me that my way doesn't have to be the right way. That there are 6 to 11 ways to come to the same conclusion.
Thank you for forgiving me. For that time I faked leaving you at the tennis courts to prove a lesson. For the time I threw all of your toys away. For me telling you I was angry at you for calling me a jerk. I've messed up in some pretty big ways when it has come to being your Mommy. Please know as you read this that I am one messed up, saved only by the grace of God sinner. I don't do everything right. Not even close. And anytime I've hurt you, I've sobbed and cried and beat myself up continuously over it. And I've tried to apologize every time I've screwed up. Please know I love you more than words will ever be able to express. You are a part of me and I am a part of you.
Thank you for now enjoying the snuggles. For begging me to hold you every night: For fulfilling what God knew I needed...another snuggling guy to hold and nuzzle. It may have taken you 5 years to get there but now you snuggle and it is you, and it is me, and it is perfect.
I end this now to go and build you cupcakes and a daniel tiger trolley, and to go celebrate everything that is you and what makes you just so incredible. I love you Baby Bear. Now and forever I will be your Momma. Ugga-Mugga, sweet prince.