In a few short weeks, M will turn eight.Each birthday is a gift, a cause for celebration. And each is bittersweet.
Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for every milestone, every inchstone achieved. I am thankful for good health. For his growth and development. His happiness. I truly am.
But with that joy and celebration and gratitude comes a sadness. It is a heaviness not fully understood by those who have children who are developing typically. Other mothers who are also members of this unique sorority understand what I am saying without my need for explanation.
M's birthdays are always spent with family and close friends at his side. He enjoys the company of his favorite people at his side. He loves blowing out his candles (a skill mastered at the age of six.) and eating a giant helping of cake and licking frosting from his fingers.
Through the years, we celebrated the day with M in a variety of ways. We've explored the aquarium and have ridden go-karts and picked blueberries and dined on lobster rolls. Each year we strive to find a way to celebrate that will make M the happiest.
M is happy and content and celebrating in ways he enjoys and with the people he loves. I shouldn't ask for more. But there is that piece of me that thinks about the milestones that have continued to elude M. The gaps that widen between him and his peers. I think about how he is getting older in years and wonder if there will be an age at which his development plateaus. I look at him, impossibly tall and lean, looking older than his eight years. I wonder what age strangers must think he is. His excessive height accentuates his delays and awkwardness and I know that as he ages he is less able to blend in. As another year of childhood passes and he is edging closer to adulthood, I can't help but worry.
While we strive to make each birthday celebration memorable for M, he remains largely unaware of the reason for the celebration. He enjoys the company and the cake, but he lacks the understanding that the fuss is for him. He doesn't count down the days until his big day. He cannot tell me how old he is turning. He's never asked for a specific present. He's never requested a party or to invite other children over to celebrate. He's never asked for a particular flavor of cake or for a character theme. Planning his birthday is easy for me. Too easy. Easy in a way that makes me sad.
It is unlike Miss J, who months before her birthday is already deciding how she wants to celebrate and with who. Miss J who carefully decides upon a party theme and activities and colors and food and favors. A girl who gives thought to every detail. She is like other typical children, giddy with the excitement of turning another year older.
M is my gift. A gift, who at times, I feel compelled to tell others is not less than perfect, not a short coming, not a cause to feel cheated. M is a collection of wonderful attributes and surprises, just like any other child.
And as much as I am full of gratitude, even though I appreciate everything I have received with M, there is a vein of selfishness that runs through me that cannot help but to want for more for M. More for M and perhaps, more for me.