My firstborn completed his 15th lap around the sun this afternoon. He altered my body in ways I couldn’t imagine. He was the first of 7 children to rest beneath my heart. He barreled through me, shifting my ideals of the person I was supposed to be because I chose to be who I wanted him to have as a mother. It came with the backlash of being someone I wasn’t and my hormones fluctuated, throwing me into one of the deepest depressions I have ever experienced. It was called the baby blues, but there was a darkness that suffocated me and held me in oppression that was a vile mockery of sisterhood.
He was born a little early and at 5 pounds, 5 ounces, he was tiny and his whole body fit along my forearm. He needed constant contact and wanted to be held at all times. I was on my own around the clock as my ex was working more than one job to support us. He would often get home late in the afternoon and remind me to eat and shower because I would forget to eat. My respite came in the form of a baby swing, but after I had learned to do everything with one hand while he rested along the other arm. He was colicky and would cry most of the night and at 4 months old, I called my mom in tears, and thanked her for not killing me in my infancy.
By his first birthday, he was obsessed with the toilet. He would climb in and sit in it, fully clothed. It was wet and held him closely. It was sensory. He would defecate in a diaper, then explore the textures with his hands and mouth on clothes and walls. He loved flushing things, and I learned how to uninstall a toilet, flip it upside down in a tub, flush water or a snake up the back way to dislodge puzzle pieces, cutlery, cars and trains and reinstall the same toilet. I now keep a toilet auger and this year there’s only been one spoon but it might have been Kid2’s misadventure. (Two wax rings can be sandwiched if you can’t find a double thick one and don’t over tighten your screws because porcelain can’t take that kind of pressure.)
I took him to a pediatrician with several letters added on after her name. I placed my faith in her and believed her when she told me he would talk when he was ready. I can’t describe the rage and betrayal I felt when I believed her, and I was told he was on a spectrum that was a word I knew nothing about. She assured me he was fine, but there was a reason I felt like a failure and other mother’s encouraged this notion. Autism looks like a naughty child and a mother bent on spoiling her child.
I’ve watched him seek alignment for what I can never really appreciate but understand as Sensory Integration Dysfunction. I’ve watched him try to make friends, only to be othered for an inability to understand the cruel social cues of children learning their limits and boundaries. I’ve seen him try to make sense of where he belongs.
I’ve seen him make friendships and interact the way I did as a teenager, but his play is far more imaginative than the silly Sassy articles I would read to my best friend during long nights on the phone.
I’ve seen him shelter his brothers, and beat them mercilessly. I’ve seen him stand up to me and call me out when I’m failing, because I’ve asked him to, and he trusts me enough to give me his honesty. He’s not just brave but courageous.
When their Dad was injured recently, my first born son had the presence of mind to call an ambulance, when the grown ups around them lost their heads. When they were with their Dad this weekend, my son stood up to help his Dad in every way necessary. When the pressure became too much, he texted me for encouragement, and continued being the young man I am so very proud of.
He’s a gamer. He loves anime and has been working on his own drawings. He encourages and supports his friends. He looks after his brothers and calls me out to be better. He makes me want to make yesterday’s ceiling tomorrow’s floor because it is a gift to watch him rise above every expectation put before him. He inspires me. He is my bright light and brings me so much joy. I’m so proud of the man he’s growing into and only hope to honor who he is by who I consistently show up as.
He’s my firstborn.