Four years ago today, I was preparing to meet our new baby boy. It was my last full day of that pregnancy, although I did not know it yet. I was tired, sore, impatient and over it all.
No one assumes upon falling pregnant that their child might be different. No one goes into the journey of conception with the idea that disability might play a role on their future.
With our Little Mate, we had a couple of years of 'normal' development (although with the benefit of hindsight there were already signs that something was not quite the same). It wasn't until he was well into his third year of life that things started to really seem amiss.
Disability in general was not something I'd had much experience of first hand. I considered myself a sympathetic person and thought I was very good at being inclusive. As it turns out, I had no idea how condescending sympathetic can sometimes be even with the best of intentions. For all my wanting to be seen to be a good and upstanding person, I had missed a key point; one that only becoming a mother made clear to me... the fact that people are people regardless of ability, and that they are lovable and loved. That labels mean nothing to a parent, and should mean nothing more than ways to get the help and support needed to anyone else as well.
Of course it is not that simple, nothing ever is.
But today on the eve of my beautiful boy's fourth birthday, I am grateful. I am grateful for the gift of him in our lives. I am grateful for his huge smile, for his glorious 'nuggles' and for his loving nature. I am grateful for the diagnosis that helps us care for him in the best way we can, and I am grateful for the fact that the past year has opened my eyes to a world I was fairly unaware of before.
I know that in many ways our challenges are so minor, although of course for us at times they can be all consuming. But even on the hardest of days, he is still my son. Simply that. I love him with every beat of my heart and I would do anything in my power to protect him. He is a child and to be cherished, just the same as every other child. Regardless of their differences.
To my darling boy, I hope you have a super fun birthday tomorrow. I cannot believe you will be four, the years are passing so quickly! You are tall and strong. You are funny and you love your brother and sisters so much. You amaze me every day with the things you can do, and with the things that you try so hard to do. Thankyou for sharing your world with me.
You will always be my baby no matter how many years have passed, and I love you. I loved you before you were born, I loved you the very minute I first saw your little-old-man baby face and I will love you every minute of my life. You make me want to be a better person. You make me want to make the world a better place for you. Thankyou my son.