We so happily celebrated Oscar’s second birthday last week. I have heard that some parents find their child’s birthday a stark reminder of the widening gap between their child and a typically developing child. I am finding this to be true. When your child is young, it is easier to “hide” their delays. As they age, it is much more difficult. Honestly, when we celebrated Oscar’s first birthday we were just so happy he was with us. His second birthday was definitely a reminder of his delays. But I choose to celebrate his abilities.
I am celebrating all of Oscar’s abilities, as small as they may seem to some. I celebrate every time he transitions into sitting, because I know how much practice and patience it took for him to gain that skill. I celebrate watching how fast he crawls because I can remember when he couldn’t pull himself up into all fours. Eventually when he could get into all fours, I would manually move his hands and his knees for him in order to advance forward. I celebrate how well he is doing walking in his walker because I remember how much my back hurt guiding him around in it. And now I am able to celebrate every time he lets go of one of my hands when he is walking to test his balance.
I celebrate when he looks me in the eye and smiles because there were months when he wouldn’t make eye contact. I celebrate when he laughs and when he cries because I remember all of those days when he was silent…I celebrate every little noise he makes.
I celebrate watching him chew and eat because I can still feel the stress as I remember watching him hold food in his mouth for minutes on end, not swallowing. I celebrate watching him pick food up from his highchair tray and put it into his mouth, because I remember when he wouldn’t even bat at an object that was right in front of him. I celebrate watching him drink from a straw because I know how much work it was squeezing water into his mouth with the trainer straw cup.
I celebrate when he helps to push his arm through his sleeve while getting dressed. I celebrate watching him curiously play with his toys and be able to choose which toy he wants to play with instead of me deciding for him. I celebrate watching his little hands turn the page of a book because so many times I grabbed his hand and helped him turn the pages.
I celebrate how I can hold him with one arm because he can now hold himself upright without needing both of my arms for support. I celebrate when he holds on tight to my shoulder as I am carrying him. I celebrate watching him interact with his sister and the special bond they have already developed.
There is so much to celebrate. There is so much that he is able to do today that I wasn’t sure if he would be able to do a year ago. Yet part of me grieves.
I had imagined that by this time my two kids would be running around the backyard together. I had imagined that Oscar would be walking on the trail with us instead of riding in the stroller. I had imagined that Oscar would be saying “mama” and “dada” and would have already come up with a cute nickname for his sister because “Olivia” would still be too difficult for him to say. I had imagined that Oscar would be attending the same outdoor daycare that Olivia had attended. I had imagined that we could be traveling as a family of 4 without a care in the world other than wondering how all 4 of us could manage in a hotel room together.
There are many things that I grieve. But there are many more small things that I am able to celebrate. I try to focus on those things, because those things are so wonderful!