Ten. Ah, perfection- as irresistible as Bo Derek’s braids, as complete as Pearl Jam’s breakthrough album, and as unblemished as my wedding vow renewal. So many images come in to mind as I contemplate my own connotations of the term ten. And isn’t there just something so strong, so solid about an even number?
Ten years ago today my life changed completely. I gave birth to a revolution, a force for good. James Robert did not want out, but I was having none of that. I wanted to meet my firstborn on June 28, and I got my wish. Nothing could have prepared me for the road ahead which turned out to be, well, perfect.
I was a train wreck of a mom in the early days. Apparently, I was overqualified. Ha! To be perfectly honest, I used to look back at those difficult years with J.R. with feelings of regret. I’ve poked fun at my parenting, at best. No more. I say that because for the first time in my life, I will admit that I had to have done something right.
My ten year-old J.R. is, and always has been, the embodiment of bravery. I cannot imagine having to be in his shoes, not even for one minute. It took me many years to understand that autism is a veil over a person that can never be lifted, yet I worked tirelessly to make him better. Better? What does that really mean?
J.R. has fixed me. He has sent this perfectionist to the school of grace under pressure. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine raising a Hemingway character. That prospect alone makes me feel like the luckiest girl alive.
J.R. does not worry or fret about the things you and I do. He becomes elated over the simplest of pleasures, like the fact that today is Saturday. He dreams. BIG. J.R. doesn’t comprehend the concept of limitations. He will befriend a narwhal. Just watch him.
Son, I named you James because I have always thought it was such a regal name. I wanted you called as such, for James is also my father’s name. Somehow though, from the second you were born, you became an abbreviation, a J.R. It wasn’t until this day approached, the day of your tenth birthday, that I realized the following: there is nothing brief about your personality or presence, and you were simply born to be a J.R. You are just, and you are right. You are Just Right.
Happy perfect tenth birthday, my love.