Nico turns 10 today. On December 6, 2012, the most amazing little person entered my life. From the start, he moved to his own beat and picked his own path. Came when he was ready, certainly not when I was…ha. Nico Raul Luna ushered in a whole new world for me and he has continued to give me a life full of joy, surprise, laughter, love, and hope every single day I am blessed to wake up to him. He’s also taught me patience beyond measure, silent heartache and a tremendous will and determination that are both exhilarating and exhausting.
Nico, you are my masterpiece. You are filled with wonder and subjectivity and mystery from every angle. My life is filled with color and complexity because of you. Thank you for being mine.
And although I watched you this birthday weekend living in your own world, which always feels so separate from mine and those that love you, I knew you felt our love. I was hoping so much so that you would stop and turn and just share how you were feeling being celebrated by your family, but it didn’t come this birthday. However, the one thing I can always count on from you is that you keep me hopeful and on my toes.
I allowed myself just a smidge of time to grieve the childhood I continue to want for you. How your autism seems to shield you from understanding just how much you are loved and thought of. I cried in the shower just for a bit when I thought about how different your experience was going to be compared to what I wanted for you in my head. How I wanted you to wake up and know that everything your father and I had planned was for YOU. That your cousins were all here to celebrate you and that your parents spared no expense for you because it was your first ever double digit birthday!
But then I realized that I was doing it again.
Planning for the unknown. Assuming that because you weren’t demonstrating your excitement in the way I understand excitement to look that you weren’t excited or appreciative. I had to remind myself that there is so much about you and how you internalize things that I still do not know yet, and I had to find peace with that…again.
I was worrying too much that I had planned all of your birthday festivities in vain, and that you wouldn’t have thought twice about this weekend if we hadn’t kept reminding you we were celebrating your 10th birthday. I think I was stressing on the fact that I wanted you to give the family a bit more that they could actually connect with so your birthday didn’t feel so disjointed for everyone. But, then I scolded myself because YOU are the one who constantly has to conform for a world that doesn’t want to fit YOUR needs, yet expects so much out of you.
It’s an emotional roller coaster for me at times and then I look over at you and you are as content as can be just doing your own thing. That’s when I slapped myself out of it and looked forward to all I had planned for you.
I was so thankful we did have some nice moments like that as a family this weekend, and this is why I decided I was going to focus on how far you’ve come in these ten years and what I hope for you in your next ten.
In these last ten years, Nico, I have been overjoyed to know that you have:
- Started communicating daily without prompting
- Lessened your meltdowns to an infrequent occurrence
- Shared affection without prompting
- Attended a mainstream school without full-time ABA therapy
- Learned what it means to be a protective, responsible big brother
- Acquired more patience and social skills
- Become an incredible reader who reads with fluency, inflection and intonation
- Taught yourself to swim and dive to the bottom of our pool
- Shown love for your family in ways that benefit all of you
- Built friendships and allowed students in your class and school to connect with and learn from you
And in these next ten years that you have awaiting you, my Neeks, I hope you:
- Become more connected to your family and open up to us more
- Realize just how loved you are and learn to reciprocate that love in new ways
- Communicate more with your family and friends in ways that forge stronger bonds
- Learn to be more independent so that you feel empowered to do all your favorite things when you want
- Meet new people who accept you for you and help advocate on your behalf when you may not be able to
- Venture out and try new foods so that you are able to enjoy my cooking and baking since I would love to share my favorite things with you
- Try your hardest to become academically successful so more opportunities unveil themselves to you as you grow older
- Ask for help when you need it so you don’t struggle more than necessary
- Will always see how much your father loves you and wants nothing but for you to be happy and present in our family
- Will always know how much I try to be the BEST mom for you; how much I would give and sacrifice for your happiness, health and future
I’ve come to know your birthdays as bittersweet, and truth be told… this one is teetering a bit more on the bitter side as much as I hate to admit it.
It’s probably because I know you just aren’t making a connection to its significance, and if it weren’t for your family reminding you all day long that it’s your special day, you might not even know today was December 6th…the day you were born 10 years ago.
So, I will cling to the moments where I saw your eyes light up, your hands flap, and your gorgeous smile shine bright and natural with excitement because I KNOW those were pure moments of happiness for you.
And, if I can get that from you daily for the rest of my life, I will feel content knowing you are happy with life.
Happy 10th Birthday, Nico. You are my absolute everything and I hope one day you will read this and feel how much of my heart I poured into this for you, my sweet beautiful boy. Mom loves you beyond measure.