A Letter to My Son
To my beautiful Austin,
This time of year is always filled with memories of 4 years ago. Memories of you, our perfect newborn boy, the final member of our family.
When I think back on these few years of your life, my mind often goes back to the very first time I saw you. I was only 12 weeks pregnant; too soon to know your gender.
Or so we thought.
I went to the ultrasound by myself that day and was shocked that we were able to see that you were indeed a boy.
Our third child, our first son.
Laying on the table during the rest of the scan, I cried tears of complete joy. We were going to have a little boy to join our two sweet girls; our family would look exactly as I’d always hoped it would.
I could picture you clearly that day. Of course you’d look just like your daddy. He’d be your hero, and you would want nothing more than to be just like him. I pictured you dressed up like a policeman, a plastic gun on your hip, pretending to catch the bad guys just like daddy does.
I could see you as a high schooler playing varsity basketball. Daddy and I would be in the stands at every game, proud that the tall, talented boy was ours.
I imagined you graduating from the police academy. A third generation of protecting and serving your community. I imagined how I would burst with pride seeing you in your green uniform following your daddy’s footsteps.
Then came the dark day in the doctor’s office when he asked “Has anyone mentioned the ‘A’ word to you”?
I had expected to feel relieved that finally someone was listening to me. Finally there was an explanation for the words that never came. For the rocking, the head banging, the lack of eye contact. There was indeed a reason you seemed oblivious to everyone.
But I didn’t feel relief at all. I felt overwhelmed and scared. I vaguely remember hearing words I never dreamed I’d hear about you.
Autism, autism spectrum, moderate autism…
And just like that all of our dreams for you fell apart.
The future was terrifying and we had no idea what to expect.
As you grew, our lives didn’t look anything like we’d planned.
You preferred flipping blinds or light switches to playing with toys. Making a u-turn in the car would immediately set you into a meltdown. Our days were filled with therapies and trying diets and supplements. Anything that maybe would cure your autism, or at least help you progress and learn to talk.
We grieved watching you struggle; banging your head in frustration because you couldn’t tell us what you wanted.
We longed to hear your little voice.
We felt anger that life gave you all these challenges. Why you? Why our beautiful boy?
I’ve prayed and begged God to take your autism away. To give you words so that we could have a conversation. I’ve poured everything I have into helping you, and there’s nothing else I would rather be doing.
My heart melts when you put your little arms around my neck and squeeze.
I burst with pride when I see you making progress and learning in spite of all your challenges. I am proud to be your mommy.
I am proud that you are loving and affectionate, and that you work so hard. Just like your daddy.
Every day when I pick you up from school and you squeal and run to me with the biggest smile, I hear the words that you can’t say.
Maybe our lives and our hopes for your future will look different than we thought they would. Things will most likely never be easy for you or for us.
If there was one thing I would want you to know and understand my sweet little man, it’s that you are so incredibly loved just the way you are.
No matter what your future holds, you will always be my baby. The perfect little boy that I hoped and prayed for. The little guy who looks just like his daddy, and who will always have his mama’s heart.
I love you, Austin.