|Derek's 1st Christmas|
When Tyler was about two years old, I put him down for a nap and left the room. About 10 minutes later, I heard a strange scraping noise. I stuck my head into his room and found my sweet little boy using the end of a cheap watercolor paintbrush to scrape lines into the walls. I was sooooooo mad.
Today, I started painting Tyler's room a dark red color. While I was painting, I came across the scrapes on the wall. Somehow or other, that toddler is now a 7 1/2 year old man-child. In the blink of an eye, my baby grew up.
I swallowed the lump in my throat and painted over the marks.
I remember so little of Tyler's toddler years. I feel terrible about that. Derek was born when Tyler was still in diapers, so all of my memories are foggy from sleep-deprivation. Then when Derek was diagnosed with autism, Tyler changed--overnight it seemed. He became a serious, sensitive child.
Or maybe it was me that changed. I'm not sure.
Time is an interesting thing.
In the past few years, a lot has happened. People have graduated from high school and college. Family members and friends have gotten married. Lots of people had babies. (My brother had twins. My sister had two little boys.)
Yet, even though my mind registers that all of these things are happening, time seems to have stopped for me. Oh, I know that sounds ridiculous. I mean, I can look at pictures and see my children growing up right before my eyes. Yet somehow, I'm stuck. It's like there is an invisible rope tethering me to 2009--the year Derek was diagnosed with autism.
(Did you ever play tether ball at school? When I was in elementary school, there was one on the playground. A ball was attached to a rope and the rope hooked to a pole in the ground. The goal was to hit the ball hard enough with your hand that the rope would wind all the way around the pole with one hit. I was never very good at tether ball. Sometimes I hit the ball and it would swing around the pole and hit me in the head. I should have learned something from that...)
Last Friday was the last day for one of Derek's therapists. He's had a lot of therapists come and go. So it shouldn't be a big deal to say goodbye to one of them, right? Wrong. The women that have worked with him became like family members to me. And the one that left Friday? She was the last of the original four I hired. The original four were with me during the hardest years, when Derek didn't understand language. I don't know if they realized it, but they knew me during the most formative years of my life. They have seen me crumble and fall apart. They have seen me cry. But best of all? They saw me rebuild myself--stronger than I ever believed possible. When I say goodbye, I am letting go, once and for all, to the person I used to be.
It's time. The rope is unraveling, whether I want it to or not. Derek is no longer 2. Both of my boys are doing amazing things and it's time to focus on that. I don't want to be tethered to the past. It is full of pain and uncertainty. When I think of the future, all I feel is hope. I owe a good chunk of that feeling to his therapists. They will forever be Family.
I wonder if the new people I hire will realize how awesome my son is. I wonder if they will understand why I sob like a baby on his first day of kindergarten, or on a day when he accomplishes something huge. I wonder a lot these days.