Wade's fifth birthday has come and gone; the birthday that I've been subconsciously anticipating pretty much since his birth on May 22, 2007. From early on, everything I read mentioned so much about early intervention and how the brain develops so much between birth and age five. There were times that I got so hung up on this medical view and somehow convinced myself that once he turned five, our attempts at different therapies to make his life easier wouldn't be effective. I know it sounds silly, but I wanted to take advantage of that "brain pliability" as much as I could. Looking back, I realize how much pressure I put on myself.
At Christmas time, I decided we were going to have a big shebang for Wade's fifth birthday. Five years old is a big deal for any kid. It's one of those milestone birthdays. It was an even bigger deal to me because I had put so much emphasis on those early learning years. So much so that I completely overwhelmed myself and went into my famous shutdown mode.
As the weeks drew closer, Curtis, my parents, my in-laws and my friends were constantly asking me when we were having his party. We have family out of state, and they needed to know so that they could make travel plans. Selfishly, I kept procrastinating. I made the excuse that I had other things that took precedence. We were in the middle of a disagree IEP meeting at school; it was the end of the school year; Wade's annual IEP meeting was coming up; he had multiple doctor's appointments; the list goes on and on. Another overwhelming factor for me was that it seemed my worlds--my pockets of friends from various backgrounds--were starting to collide. I didn't even know where to begin with invitations. Our house is only so big, and when I started thinking about everyone, it was just too much--t-ball friends, school friends, church friends, friends we've met in "disability world", family, neighborhood, etc. We are actually very, very blessed to have this "problem", so I'm not complaining. I just didn't know how to make it easy. Needless to say, my family never got plane tickets booked, and I never planned for the big event.
I'm a little sad that I allowed the fear of reliving Wade's birth to practically paralyze me. I really didn't know the full extent of my sadness until I went to bed the night before his birthday. As soon as my head hit the pillow, the tears began to flow on their own. My mind was taken back to the days and the moments I was trying so hard to avoid. Although Wade's birth was the scariest day of my life, it's also a day I wouldn't go back and change. The memories are sometimes painful and overwhelming, but the wonderful life that has grown from that traumatic event is the best thing that has ever happened to me. In just five short years Wade has taught me the true meaning of unconditional love. He's the face of hope, determination, and strength. He's more than I ever, ever dreamed of.
“My identity is the product of my history. My history is that of a person with cerebral palsy. If I didn't have cerebral palsy, I wouldn't be who I am; I'd be someone else. Frankly, I like who I am, I like my history, I like my life. I'm not sure I'd sacrifice who I am for the sake of normal movement and speech.” ~ Norman Kunc, In Spite of My Disability