Map of Jack

Jack’s birthday is winding to a close. I always feel like a fraud of a mom when people ask me what we are doing to celebrate and I say, “Eating Hostess cupcakes and handing the birthday boy a new vacuum.”

It’s not Pinteresty. It’s effectively the anti-Instagrammed child’s birthday party. It doesn’t look pretty, yet it’s all the stuff he likes without the meltdown potential of a party.

Jack’s birthday is usually a sad, faded kind of day for me, with bits of brightness around the edges. Like a map of the world, I guess, with saturated outlines and pale, shaded countries and oceans.

It’s a day when his differences feel as big as the Pacific.

His birthday makes me ponder his life and our lives, and inevitably it gets emotional.

It’s not that this day takes me back to his birth or the hard, uncertain years that followed it. It doesn’t. I’m too mired down in the right now to devote much energy to remembering the early days.

I guess it just seems like this day should be really happy.

And yet, it is another difficult day when Jack spit out his medicine, kicked someone at school, got naked on the trampoline, and pooped in both his bedroom and the bathtub.

I had a conversation this morning with someone about group homes, and the possibility of Jack one day living in one. Not really the sort of thing you pic-stitch and proudly post on all your social media platforms.

Jack has made his parents and his brothers into new people. This is his gift to us. His life teaches us about hope. Because of him, we know gentleness, kindness, and the deepest meaning of love. Jack puts the trappings of daily life into perspective, reminding us that things are only ephemeral things.

My second son’s tenth birthday reminds me that he and I are two fragile beings with a long journey to make around this giant globe of wild terrain.

We are small and limited, and we still have a long way to go.

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