This past week Jacob turned 6. I can't believe my baby is 6. Pretty crazy.
We had a very fun autism-friendly birthday party last weekend. We were thrilled that several kids from Jacob's ABA clinic came out to celebrate. I was nervous about it, I didn't know if the kids would enjoy it there or if it would be stressful. For the most part, it turned out pretty nice. It was a blessing to see the smile on his face the entire time.
I've been doing a lot of reflecting this week. I’ve been looking at how far Jacob has come and thinking about things that I had wished for him by now. Birthdays with autism can sometimes be bittersweet. I hate to write sad posts, but sometimes that's just really how it feels. Although I am always joyful about Jacob, there's still a lot that comes with his disability that makes me sad. I had hoped that Jacob would be closer to mainstreaming after his “kindergarten” year, but he is not nearly ready. I had hoped that he wouldn't try to run to danger anymore. I had hoped that he would have some conversational speech, but he only regularly uses basic functional speech. I know that Jacob’s speech has come so far in therapy, though. I recently got a video of him in which he is describing what is happening in pictures.
He can say things like, “The boy is eating” or “The girl is reading”. That is so amazing. I remember at one point not knowing if he would be verbal at all and the first time he ever said Mommy. It’s confusing to be so thankful and yet a little sad at the same time. At home, Jacob only uses speech for very basic wants and needs. We have to really get his attention and ask a bazillion times for speech beyond hi, bye, and I want sentences. However, his attention span has grown from about 4 seconds to a few minutes at the table with puzzles, coloring, or play dough. He listens to NO now and will typically stop what he is doing when we say it. He is still extremely lovable and sweet. He always has the biggest smile on his face. He loves to play trains, ride his bike, run, play video games like Thomas the Train and most recently found a love for roller skating.
I'm so thankful for how far he has come so it is quite confusing to feel sad. It makes me feel guilty, too. I know I have so much to be thankful for. I am reminded by so many people about how far he has come and all of the amazing things that the Lord is doing through Jacob’s life. So I have decided to allow myself to cry a little and then to trust in what I know (God) rather than my feelings. I need to focus on where we go from here and how I can be a better mom for Jacob, which I know starts by giving it all to God and trusting in his sovereignty and obeying Him. I wrote out a prayer on his birthday and would love for those of you that pray, to pray this for Jacob and for us for his birthday.
Thank you for being holy and good and loving. Thank you for all that you have done in Jacob’s life. Thank you for entrusting us to be Jacob’s parents. Thank you for the joy he brings and for all the lessons his life has taught us. Help me to raise him in a way that glorifies and honors you. I pray that I will not hold on to any bitterness. Please give me Holy Spirit contentment that supersedes my circumstances. Give me a right view of you and a right view of me, so that I can let go of anything that I feel I am owed or deserve to make way for tenderheartedness. Help show me glimpses of your purpose in my life and Jacob’s so I can follow your will and see the bigger picture throughout the struggles. Please use Jacob’s life to glorify You. Help give me wisdom to know how to be a parent to a child that doesn’t understand the way my other children do. Help me to teach and disciple him so that he can also grow to be a man that loves and honors you. Protect my marriage from the stresses of raising a child with a disability, from the financial stresses to the lack of time we get to spend alone and the worry. Help us to find a local babysitter. Specifically for Jacob I pray for communication, calm and greater attention span, independence, safety awareness and mostly that he will be able to learn about You and grow to love and serve you. God thank you for being so good to us and giving us Jacob and all of our beautiful children. Thank you for your sovereignty. I pray for your will to be done in our lives and for our focus to be always be on you first and foremost. In Jesus' name.