When I found out I was pregnant, I thought of that scene in Beaches, where CC is talking to Victoria, her best friend's daughter. Her best friend, you see, has died and has left CC to raise her daughter.
"...I don't know what kind of mother I'd make. You wouldn't believe the things that go through my head sometimes. And I'm very selfish too.."
I didn't know if I could do it. I was 19 and in college. I was an only child and didn't know what it was like to be around a baby. I never babysat because quite frankly, children bugged me.
But things worked out, as they often do. When Tommy was born, I loved him. I knew I'd do anything for him.
I know he taught me patience. He didn't talk until he was three, but now I'm grateful for it. When the words started to form, I celebrated each and every one. Had he spoken at one like a typical kid, would I have celebrated so much? Probably not. I knew Tommy struggled as his lips would twist. His brows would furrow, and I'd go, "It's okay, Tommy. Take your time. You can do it," and he'd smile and garble out a new word.
Later I'd find out he had autism, and in the beginning I blamed myself. I knew my diet hadn't been the greatest while I was pregnant. I was still in college so I ate a lot of fast food. I swallowed down caffeinated beverages without a thought. I remember after I found out he had autism I thought, "I did this. I did this to him." I'm not terribly religious, but I remember looking up and making a deal with whomever is up there. "Please. Please give me the autism. I can take it. Don't do this to my boy."
It took me a long time to realize that having autism wasn't a setback. It was something my son was born with. It was something that taught him--and me--patience. It was something that allowed us to celebrate each and every achievement. While some parents wouldn't think twice about their kid shoving macaroni and cheese into their mouth, it was a dance party when my son finally could grasp the noodle between his thumb and forefinger. He struggled with fine motor skills, you see, so when he finally took hold of that noodle, it meant something.
Today my son is 15. Life doesn't always come easy for him. But he won't ever give up. He even made a YouTube video about not giving up.
I'd like to think that maybe he remembers me cheering him on when he was tiny.
"Think about what you want to say, Tommy. I'll wait. I'll always be here for you."
He knows I'll always be in his corner, cheering him on, no matter how old he gets.
Happy Birthday, Tommy. Thank you for choosing me as your Mom.