Happy Birthday Carter!

Today is Carter’s birthday! I’ve been talking to him about his birthday for a while now, telling him that he was going to be 7 years old.  Last week his grandparents took us all out to eat to celebrate Carter’s birthday and then we had cake after.  Ever since then he’d smile when I would say his birthday is coming up.  Before, I never really thought he understood any of that, but he actually started singing Happy Birthday!
Last night when I told him his birthday was tomorrow and I started to sing Happy Birthday, he joined in with his whisper voice.  It made me so happy.  This morning he woke up without me harassing him, as if he knew what day it was and he was very excited when I told him Happy Birthday.  I’m trying to work on getting him to say he is seven years old when someone asks him, but that’s a work in progress.

Thinking about Carter turning 7 is definitely bittersweet for me. He’s getting so old (which means I am too), so big, and he’s just changing so much.  Of course that’s a great thing, but he’s not my little baby anymore, which is of course the bittersweet part.  Saying goodbye to my baby and watching him really blossom makes me emotional.  He’s really coming out of his shell.  He’s actually bursting out! He has learned so much at school, he’s becoming more verbal, he plays with the other kids- even initiating the play, he tries new things like skating and swinging on the swings, and so much more! While there are still many challenges, unknowns, and obstacles we face with Carter on a daily basis, he has grown so much in the past year.  Words wouldn’t do justice in describing how I feel about this kid.  He challenges me in the best and even the worst ways possible. Carter’s Autism diagnosis has definitely brought our family closer, when in all honesty, it could have torn us apart. The stress alone is enough to drive some families to separate.  I’ve seen it happen.  We managed to come out of the worst circumstances as an even stronger team.  I’m thankful and lucky enough to have such a supportive and encouraging family.  The impact of losing that in the move to Texas was definitely felt big time.
I try to be optimistic most of the time, but the reality is always there. The unknown always lingers. I try not to think about it, but I have my moments where I just break down and cry.  Not for me, but for Carter.  For his struggles, his victories, and everything in between.  I just want to be able to look at Carter and tell him how much I love him and have him really understand.  He’s doing so many wonderful things.  So many things I always wondered if he would ever do.  I just want him to know how proud I am of him. I couldn’t help glancing at him in the rear view mirror on the way home.  His sweet face.  His eyes caught mine and he smiled.  That smile.  He’s so happy.  I asked him if he had a good day at school.  He doesn’t answer me with words but he does with his smile.  He does his rapid hand movements showing me how excited he is.  When I opened the door to get him out the car, I lifted him out and kept him in a hug. My heart was just filled with so much love and pride.  I pulled him in close, tightly squeezing his little frame each time I thought about his progress and his struggles. The last 7 years just flashed in my mind like a movie.  He must have sensed the moment, because he hugged me back just as tightly. He buried his face into my hair. I closed my eyes and took it all in.  Savoring the sweet moment.  I know how fast the time flies.

He’s so grown, but he’ll always be my baby.

Happy Birthday, kid. Everybody loves you.