I was a perfectionist, a people pleaser, a somewhat happy, but curiously lonely person.I had a handful of friends and a lot of expectations for my life and the lives of my boys. I am no longer that person. I tend to get a bit retrospective every year around Dermot's birthday. Dermot turns five tomorrow.
Five year olds are supposed to be going to kindergarten, five year olds are supposed to be taking the training wheels off their bikes. Five year olds can use a booster seat in the car, unbuckle their own seat belt and climb out of the car themselves. Five year olds brave the big water slides at the city pool and jump off the diving board and swim back to the edge. Five year olds start hockey while their parents secretly pray that they're a natural on the ice. Five year olds fight constantly with their brothers and ask "why?" all the time.
But not my five year old. My five year old wears diapers, my five year old has a special seat in the car to support his body. My five year old floats enthusiastically in the baby pool while I hold his head up. My five year old is being held back for another year of Special Education preschool. My five year old lays on his back "dancing" while his brothers play and fight around him. My five year old is different than your five year old.
This is the fourth year I've celebrated Dermot's birthday. This year we will have a few small family get togethers. Last year I threw a big party for Dermot's birthday with family and friends and classmates, I even ordered a jumpy thing for the kids to bounce around. The year before I can't remember what we did to mark the occasion. His second was a modest party with family and homemade ice cream cake.
The one that strikes me the most when I look back, is his first birthday. I wasn't planning a party. In my mind at the time, there wasn't anything to celebrate, I was consumed by grief. I made no plans, I sent no invitations, I wanted it to come and go just like any other day. I shared my feelings, in great detail, to one of my dearest friends. She said she understood, she said she could see I was hurting, but what she said next was the most important thing. She said: "You need to have a party for Dermot. Period" Because the fact that I didn't want to celebrate wasn't the point, the fact that I was having a hard time getting out of bed, didn't matter. Dermot was my kid and all kids need birthday parties.
So I did, I had that party. I called everyone that could make it on three days notice. I made an ice cream cake. My mom and I constructed some make shift hats from the comics in the Sunday paper, and the party was lovely and painful all at the same time.
So four years later as Dermot turns five, I have a party. I don't punish myself for being sad for all the things he can't do, I celebrate Dermot, for being Dermot.
Happy Birthday Dermot!
|Dermot's first birthday|