A sassy, crafty mama bird from Los Angeles
raising a very sweet little girl with Autism
and a new baby boy in the Midwest... and other stuff, too.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

five away from five

"But you, you came to break me.
Oh you, you came to save me."
-Zee Avi

I've been thinking about this all day. Today is January 19th, which was my due date five years ago. For 9 1/2 months I thought of that date and talked about it every time anyone and everyone asked the two questions they ask every pregnant lady: when are you due and what are you having? There are so many expectations you have when you're having a baby- especially your first. I mean, look how happy I was...

Well, I didn't find out what I was having, but I just knew it would be a boy. In fact, I only picked out one name, fit for a boy. Well, the baby didn't come that day and when it finally came out, it was a girl! She got the boy name anyway- it was the only one I liked. Just the beginning of expectations not being met. 

These are very flattering prego pics, I assure you. I really was enormous

She's gonna be 5 in five days. The dreaded FIVE. I am not happy about it. I was supposed to be done with all this by five. We all were. So many moms get their kids into therapies around 2 (though Little Bird started at 8 months), and we're often told that by 5 we'll probably be done. That way, our kids can enter school with their peers, doing all the typical things that typical kids do. When five comes around and we aren't done, it's a knife through the heart and a reminder of the one thing we all dread: that this is forever. Well, so far I think five fucking sucks. Can you say sucks here? 

I'm grieving. It's part of this whole process. I don't think you just grieve once. It's a part of the process that comes and goes. Well, it's here now. I'm grieving the loss of the expectations. The loss of the dream. That stuff comes up all the time. It happens a lot when parents of typical kids complain about total bullshit, even though it's a big deal to them; or when they talk about their kids doing the most mundane things that I'm spending thousands of dollars to teach and train my own kid to do; or even worse, when they brag about things that seem like everyday things, but that my kid might never ever be able to do. But, the other times we grieve are when the milestones come around. Like five. I'm sure I'll go through it all again when all the kids she was a baby with go to real school and she'll be repeating a grade (if she's able to go); then again when they start their dance classes, hebrew school, get bat mitzvahed, get drivers permits & licenses, take college entrance exams, etc. Should I keep going? Because I can. Trust me, I can. I'm not where I wanted to be when she turns five. That's pretty tough.

But, of course, I'm able to find some bliss in the little things. Today as we walked down the stairs to her classroom, I was impatient and frustrated that it was taking her so long. But, it occurred to me that there was a point when we weren't certain she'd ever walk; when we spent so much time, effort, and money to teach her basic movements like rolling over, crawling, standing alone, then taking steps. Now she often runs away from me and as I chase after her, I giggle as I curse the physical therapist who has worked with her since she was 8 months old. I know another mom would've just been frustrated that the kid wasn't moving quickly enough. 

I am not the same person I was when I started this journey. I'm a little sadder, a little harsher, a lot more compassionate toward others. I'm a better friend, a WAY better mom than I ever expected to be, and a much better person. So, she's changed my perspective on life, love, and what those two things really are. I'm pretty fucking awesome. It's true. But the real truth is that it's all because of her. She came to save me.


Penny said...

My girl is 10 and the cycle of grief continues. Sometimes, it's really hard for me. My girl has a twin brother. He'll have a huge celebration w/ his class at the end of the year as they leave elementary school for middle school. I'll see other twins there, twins that aren't separated because of autism, and the question will be, will I be able to shove the tears behind the wall I've erected, or will they burst through?

Dani, I can tell you that FIVE doesn't mean much -- the "developmental window" that "slams shut" at the age of six DOES NOT EXIST. It's a myth. You can get her development back on track -- she may be behind for a while -- accept it -- and you'll rejoice and appreciate every.single.milestone in ways that "regular" parents completely miss and take for granted. And "regular" parents miss out on the self growth we get because of this little pathway we're on.

I rejoice with you as you plan for this upcoming birthday celebration! :) The Little Bird has a wonderful Mama Bird. You're blessed to have each other.


Jessica Harrison said...

You are way more than pretty fucking awesome...you're absolutely incredible.

Piscesgirl said...

Very nicely put! You are right about how at some points, you almost get a little bitter when others complain about how their kid is struggling with reading. All the while praying that one day you may be so blessed as to have to deal with the same shit! Your doing great from the sound of it! :)

My name is Erin. said...

I'm bawling. Both after reading your post and after reading Penny's comment. I feel the same way that Abby came into my life to save me. And I'm convinced that in some little way, for me to meet you. I may only know you from afar, but I think you rock and I'm so thankful to have a cool friend to learn from and who "knows" what it's like to be an atypical mom.

I think it's pretty amazing that we don't let little milestones like walking and talking simply go by as things "we just do". We don't take anything for granted. And for that we are truly blessed. If not a little bit crazy.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Dani!
Just as I was about to sign off for the night, I decided to check your blog and see if you had written anything today. Wow! Just...wow! It makes me sad to think back about how excited we both were before they were born, and then how we both were concerned when they weren't meeting different milestones.

What will the future hold? I guess we are truly just doing it one day at a time, right?


Arlene said...

that last paragraph, well the whole thing really, just made tear up and I was not planning on that tonight. I've mentioned to you before how hard I took it a couple of months ago when my son turned 5. It's inevitable to grieve for the loss of something that might never happen. but like you said, she came to save you and mine really have too. I am so proud to be their mother, I'd be so ignorant about so many things, normal things if it wasn't for them. They have taught me to be amazing because they are the most amazing little human beings I have ever met. And when I think like that, I really have to say to myself, how can they not be ok, they have to be, they will be and she will be too because they are AMAZING and she will surprise you in a really good way.

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

Great post! New here (found you from the "whatcha readin'?" post on MOM-NOS).

Anonymous said...

I could say the same thing about you, my Birdie. Even as an adult, you have saved me many times, and you didn't even know it. I love you... Mom

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