A Birthday Letter

Dear Corbin,

Last night, we had a family birthday party for you.  I love getting our family together to celebrate someone’s birth, particularly when it’s one of my boys.  It was so much fun talking with everyone, watching you smile and laugh, and seeing you light up with your gifts.  So much fun until your brother became overwhelmed….

I tried a few little tricks but it was evident he wasn’t going to be able to calm down easily.  He was crying so hard it started to get that hyperventilation feel to it.  He was throwing himself on the ground.  He couldn’t pull it together to tell me verbally or on his talker what would help.  I slipped away from your party and spent twenty minutes upstairs with Brian, first applying deep pressure and then drawing him a bath with essential oils in it.

The bath seemed to work and we were able to rejoin the party without any major incidences.

I’m not sure you noticed that I disappeared.  I’m so glad you were having so much fun with your cousins and aunts and grandparents that you didn’t notice.  But I noticed.  It weighed heavy in my heart that I couldn’t make just one evening all about you.  I am positive that all parents feel this at some point, even parents with only “typical” children, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less.

I have no doubt in my mind that having autism in our lives has given you some of your best attributes: empathy, patience, tolerance, and kindness.  One of my proudest Mommy moments was when your fourth grade teacher, who has been doing her job for decades, told me that you were the most empathetic 10 year old she had ever met in her life.

Autism in our lives can also make things tricky.  Like when you asked me if Brian was going to be home for your sleepover tonight.  When I responded yes, you quickly smiled and said, “Okay.  Good.”  But then later  you confided in me and said you were a little worried about him having a meltdown or streaking in the middle of your party.  I don’t want you to feel bad about having those feelings.  You are, after all, a 12 year old boy; you’re not a saint.

I’m not sure where this letter is going.  I just wanted you to know that I recognize that your childhood hasn’t been “typical”.  I know that there have been times that are hard and there have been times where I wish I could give you more of my undivided attention.  I know there are times when you are overwhelmed.  And it’s okay for you to feel that way.

I also know there are times when you are so proud of our family.  When you go out and advocate and educate like no other 12 year old I know.  I know that you love to cuddle with your brother and teach him new things.  I know that you are genuinely happy and you laugh more than any kid I know.  I have often said that the siblings of individuals with special needs are going to change this world.  I say that because of how incredible you are.

I want you to know that I think you are simply amazing.  You are brave.  You are kind.  You are compassionate and empathetic.  You are absent-minded and brilliant.  You are quirky and truly one-of-a-kind.  Sometimes you have a quick temper and are stubborn.  You are hilarious and energetic and spirited.  You are an out-of-the-box visual thinker.  You are a go-getter.  You are artistic.  You are literal.  You are a dreamer.  You have ambitions and big plans for your life.  You have an amazing imagination and have no fear of just being yourself.  Sometimes I think you have more positive self-esteem at 12 than I did at 20.   You speak your mind.  You openly show your love to those you care about.  You have a huge heart…..I love all of these pieces of you and couldn’t be more proud to be your Mom.

No matter how hectic and atypical our lives may be some times, remember how loved you are.  Remember that even though I might need to take 20 minutes away to help your brother, you are always my special firstborn, my first true love.  You are always a huge piece of my heart.  You are always loved.

Happy 12th Birthday Corbin.

Love, Mom

Heather Nelson

About Heather Nelson

Heather resides in Rockland where she is busy juggling life as a newlywed, a mom to two boys (one of which who has autism), a part time job in direct sales, and a full-time job as a pediatric occupational therapy assistant. She has a love for live music, karaoke, and cheering on the underdogs.