Celebrating Small Victories (An Open Letter to My Son)

As I was watching Atypical, it came to a scene where the teenage boy was upset because of terrible things his peers wrote around his picture in his yearbook. He went to the only place he knew he would feel better, until his parents and sister found him. When his mom got there she told him about a list she made when he was young of five things she hoped for him someday.

  1. I hope he makes a friend
  2. I hope he can communicate clearly
  3. I hope he does okay in school
  4. I hope he finds something he loves to do
  5. I hope he can leave the house on his own someday

I might have those in the wrong order, but you get the jist of it. Besides the fact she made a list (and you know how much I love lists ;)), I loved the things she put on the list. Although the things on the list sound like such simple things, just everyday expectations of people, they really aren’t easy. They are actually some of the hardest things to learn. Atypical is a show based on a character who is autistic. It really is a great show, and helps show people different sides of what it is like to live with autism, and what it is like for the people closest to you to live with an autistic person they love. Although my son is not autistic, I found myself relating to parts of the show. I think in some way, all parents can. I also think it so easy for us to get lost in the day to day life, and the expectations of society, schools, and simply the world around us – that we loose sight of celebrating small victories. I think it is important we all take time to reflect and realize those things that everyone just “expects” are not always simple tasks, and are actually really difficult things. So today, I decided to make my own list… but I couldn’t narrow it down to just five items. Over the last 11 years, my son has had many accomplishments, and I wanted to take a few minuets to reflect on them. So, Cameron – this is for you buddy. I hope you always know just how proud of you I am.

  1. I remember the night I found out I was pregnant. I was pretty shocked, and scared. I knew I always wanted to have a son some day, I just never knew when that day would come. As you know, I was only 18 at the time, and I wasn’t sure I could be the mom you needed me to be but I will never forget that night for as long as I live. That night changed my life. That was the night, you saved my life.
  2. The day I found out I was having a boy. I had been hoping you would be a boy and the moment the ultrasound tech told me – I was over the moon. I knew at that moment you would be Cameron Reid and I couldn’t wait to meet you.
  3. The first time I felt you kick was indescribable. It was probably one of the best days of my life so far, and it was the moment I knew no matter what happened, it would always be you and me. I would always protect you, and make sure you never had to question that.
  4. The first time I saw you, and held your tiny hand for the first time. There is nothing like holding your child for the first time. There just isn’t. There are really no words to describe it. It was simply amazing.
  5. The first time you broke my heart broke when I heard your poor pitiful cry and struggling to figure out how to console you.
  6. The first time I had to change your diaper and had absolutely no clue what I was doing.
  7. The first time you smiled at me. Man, I think that’s the best part of being a mom. The moments when your baby looks up at you and stares at you because they just know you are their person, forever and always. Like no one else in the world is as important as you. The connection you feel is indescribable.
  8. The first time you held your own bottle, ate real food, sat up on your own, rolled over, crawled, walked in your Elmo walker, and walked on your own. There are so many firsts in the first year of life, and they fly by so quickly! <3
  9. The first time you started saying actual words.
  10. The first time I heard your contagious laugh. Enough said. Somethings never change. Here we are eleven years later, and if I hear you laughing at something your friend said or a TV show, I can’t help but laugh too. Your sense of humor, loving heart, and smile are going to change the world some day. I have no doubt.
  11. The first time daycare sent home an incident report letting me know you had hit another child with a Lincoln log.  That was one of those moments as a parent where you had to really keep it together to be stern and set a good example, while secretly wanting to burst out laughing. PS> you were only two. 
  12. The first book you learned to read was Cooking with the Cat. You were able to recite it word for word at age 3, and whether that was because you memorized it or because you actually could read didn’t make a difference to me. Either way, I was so impressed and bragged about it to everyone who would listen.
  13. The first time you went to the fair, rode a pony, and your first camping trip. The first time you went fishing, the first time you went swimming, and the first time you actually learned to swim.
  14. The first time we started party training and the first time I realized you were finally trained!
  15. The first time we went to see a movie at the movie theater.
  16. The first time we went to the park
  17. Your first day of daycare
  18. The first time you joined a basketball team at age 3.
  19. The first time you really grasped Santa was coming
  20. The first time you lost a tooth
  21. The first time you rode a bike
  22. The first time you rode a bike without training wheels
  23. The first time you flew a kite
  24. Your first day of Kindergarten… and how you had ZERO fear. You walked around introducing yourself to all the parents and other children. You ran around the classroom telling people to see how fast you can run like a cheetah. You looked at me and said “I’m okay mom. Why don’t you go make some grown up friends?”. My heart melted.
  25. Your first day of school every year since then..
  26. The first time your artwork won a ribbon at school, and the first time you got an art award
  27. The first time you won awards for your academic accomplishments at age 6 (one of only 5 kids! Amazing!!)
  28. The first time you won the season championship with your basketball team at age 10.
  29. The first time you scored 2nd place with your basketball team at age 11.
  30. The first time you brought home a report card full of A’s and B’s.
  31. The first time you went to a monster truck show, the rodeo, a Harlem Globetrotters game, and hockey game.
  32. The first time you did wood working at Home Depot
  33. The first time you helped your Papa with tools at home.
  34. The first time you wrote a story with Nana
  35. The first time performing your magic trick show in our kitchen
  36. The first time you created and sold comic books
  37. The first time you shared with me the first story you wrote
  38. The first board game you understood and played
  39. The first time you were able to color inside the lines
  40. The first time I saw you share your Peter Piper Pizza tokens with kids you didn’t even know.
  41. The first time you gave your toys to kids across the street who needed them more.
  42. The first time I saw you play the drums and your face lit up as though you found your passion.
  43. The first time you ran for student council
  44. The first time you won Student Council President
  45. There have been other firsts that haven’t been as much fun, but I have been honored to help you through. The first time I had to ground you, the first time a friend hurt your feelings, the first time you crashed a go-kart, and the first time you had to deal with true disappointment. The first time you had surgery, and the first time you showed your dislike of doctors when you closed the door to the room we were in and said “no more doctors” in the sweetest saddest little voice in the entire world.

Honey, this list doesn’t even begin to cover all of the things you have done over the years that have made me so incredibly proud of you. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. Your first day of middle school, first day of high school,  first date, your first girlfriend,  maybe your first ex girlfriend, and your first job. Maybe someday your first day of college, your wedding day, and maybe if I’m really lucky – your first time becoming a father. I will always be here for the fun firsts, the crappy firsts, the serious firsts, the silly firsts, the planned firsts, and the unexpected firsts. I love you to the moon & back and thoroughly enjoy celebrating the simple joys in life with you! <3

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