Eli’s 2nd Birthday

As Eli’s 2nd birthday approaches, the excitement in my heart has grown. Not just because I have a lot to do before Wyatt gets here if I intend on having a proper party for him, but because I cannot believe that he will be 2!

Right now, his tiny body is folded up in only a way that Eli can configure, nuzzled next to me sleeping off a cold. He’s one precious little man. A part of me and I can’t believe he’s ours.
It seems like just yesterday he was with me on this same couch, bald and brand new. So much I didn’t know then. Two years!!!! It feels like no time at all and yet much has happened
My heart aches with the realization that he’s not a baby anymore and I am coming to understand the grief and joy my mom must have experienced as she watched us grow.

As I hold my son tonight, my mind is filled with thoughts of what lies ahead. The challenges he will face and how we will grow and change with him. Because of him. You see, my 2 year old isn’t really a 2 year old. The calendar says he is, but developmentally he’s not.

2 years ago this would have brought me to my knees. I would have cried. I would have declared he didn’t have special needs (I’ve denounced that title before). I would have felt sorry for him. For me. But tonight, it’s different and I’m grateful for that. Grateful to leave that scared and unsure person behind so I can better see the human being my son is.
And that’s not to say it’s suddenly easy to accept that my son is delayed and falling behind his peers. I just feel like our perspective has changed since he was born.

Eli’s friends of the same age are beginning to separate themselves. They are more independent, talking, walking, climbing and full of adventure as they explore.
It was easier when Eli was a newborn. All newborns need the same thing and I didn’t have to think about therapies or milestones or comparing my child to anyone else. As he grew, I became jealous more aware of my friends’ kids who didn’t even work to reach a milestone, they just did it. But Eli wasn’t that far behind them so I was confident we would catch up. He worked hard and we worked hard to help him be as successful as he could be.
Now, at nearly 2, his differences are clear. He’s not always going to “catch up” and it’s not as easy to answer questions targeted at milestones (“is he talking yet?” “Is he walking yet” “how old is he again?”).
And I’m ok with that.
Eli marches to his own drum. He doesn’t care about what the rest of the world thinks, or where his peers are at on the milestone chart, or if he’s keeping up. I’m proud of that. Proud of who he is and what he has accomplished. What he will accomplish.

In the 2 years since Eli was born, I’ve come to respect him and embrace this journey.
Eli is his own person and I’m humbled to be his mother. To get the chance to watch him grow and learn.
He’s not like everyone else. He’s Eli and that’s ok.

Eli, you’re one amazing dude. Right now, you love music, you’re adventurous and getting into everything, you like to push your walking toys all over the house, you love books and music (often making us read or sing over and over and over again…), you’re so smart- signing over 25 words and phrases (you even have good manners!), you have your own three point crawl, you play hard, you torture your sister (naturally) and you work harder than any little boy I know.
I cannot wait to celebrate you on your special day, to continue to embrace this unique journey and learn about the person you are becoming.

Dear friends,
In honor of our personal growth these last 2 years and in honor of the amazing person Eli is, we have decided to raise money for the National Down Syndrome Society. It’s great organizations like the NDSS that offer positive support and education on Down syndrome awareness.
When we found out that Eli would have Ds at 20 weeks into our pregnancy, we were disappointed at the lack of positive recourses and discouraged by society’s negative viewpoint on Down syndrome.
We hope that by sharing Eli’s life, we are erasing these outdated and negative viewpoints. Together, 2.5 years ago we asked you all to walk through Holland with us. Thank you. Thank you for your love and support. Thank you for seeing who Eli is and embracing that unconditionally. Thank you for allowing love to replace ignorance and hate. Thank you for making the world a better place for Eli and others who may be seen as different. You are amazing and we love you for that.
In lieu of gifts for Eli’s party in April, we are asking that you consider making a donation to the NDSS. Help them continue to spread awareness, educate others and make this world a little bit better for our son.
Thank you and we love you all!
http://ndssyourway.kintera.org/celebrate/thosenewmans

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