The Birthday

Twenty years ago today Zachary completed our family.  Twenty years….how is that possible?  When he was young and we were realizing that his path was far different from Emily’s, the years seemed long and difficult….twenty was not even a blip on the horizon. Yet, here we are, I blinked my eyes and my beautiful boy is 20.

Birthdays used to bring me so much angst and sadness.  My focus was on what he wasn’t doing, the milestones he wasn’t meeting, and the ever growing gap between him and his peers.

Honestly I dreaded his birthdays for many years…UNTIL I stopped worrying about having parties, I stopped worrying about people asking me what to buy him (because I didn’t want to tell someone my 10 year old still loved Barney), and I stopped worrying about the expectation……I can’t pinpoint when I finally got my head together and realized I was totally off base but at some point I finally came to the realization that I wasn’t making the birthdays about Zach, I was making them about the Expectation of what a birthday should be.

Today for his twentieth we will do as we have for many years now, let Zach dictate the day.  He is already out and about for a car ride, this afternoon he will spend some time with his favorite gal Beth for lunch and a movie, and later we will have a special dinner of his favorite foods topped off by an almond joy cake.  Honestly, today will be similar to most other days in his week…and that is just fine by him.

He doesn’t care about the gifts or the amount of money that is spent. He could give a rat’s patootie about all of the pomp and circumstance, my boy is all about the simple pleasures….a cuddle on the couch to watch a favorite video, a swim in the pool, some Twizzlers and orange slices, a Jimmy John’s sandwich with chips and a full tank of gas to go on the open road….. those are the things that bring him joy.

When I look back I get angry at myself for not appreciating the simplicity, for putting pressure on myself and on Zach to conform to what was expected.  Thankfully my son was not going to be swayed, he knew what was important to him and what made him happy.  Not sure why it took me so long to see he had it right all along.

Once again I have been “schooled” by my son and autism…another important lesson learned.  My son is one smart cookie!


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