She was determined to destroy any pre-planned ideas of how I wanted motherhood to go. I wanted to have a natural labor – she remained in a difficult breech position that required a c-section. I planned to breastfeed – she refused to cooperate and fought me to the bitter end. I dreamed of quiet moments gazing into her little blue eyes or napping together in the afternoons. Instead I was given a colicky baby who cried day and night and forced us to bow to her whims of being in constant motion.
And yet she still charmed me and forced me to fall madly in love with her.
When she was a year old, I thought the worst was behind us. The unhappy baby had been replaced by a smiling, giggly, curious toddler with enormous sapphire blue eyes and the beginnings of golden curls.
Never did I imagine the struggle we’d endure together two years later through a diagnosis of autism and the uncertainty of what the future would hold for our Amazon Warrior Princess.
Which brings us to today. Seven years old.
Cordy is now in first grade and for the first time she’s spending 95% of her school day in a mainstream class. Her teacher tells us she’s adjusting beautifully and is held to the same behavior standards as the rest of the class. She complains that her spelling list each week is too easy and has already befriended the school librarian. We can’t keep her away from books – she has books in her bed, in her backpack, and even at the dining room table.
It’s been a year of big “firsts” for Cordy, too. First attempt at sports. First roller coaster. First real haircut (that wasn’t done by me when she wasn’t paying attention). She even let me paint her fingernails for the first time last week!
I don’t think any of the experts that evaluated Cordy at three years old would have imagined that she’d be doing so well now. She has friends, she plays with other kids on the playground at school, and while she is still rigid, demanding, and quirky, she’s learning that she can often get what she wants if she plays along with the social scripts society demands of her, no matter how silly they seem to her.
But seven years old is also scary to me. She’s reaching an age where I can no longer protect her all the time. Kids are going to be mean. The social demands of her peer group will get exponentially harder and social missteps will be judged with more severity. Cordy also wants more freedom, but I’m afraid she’s not ready for that freedom and will only put herself in the path of danger. She’s too trusting and too unaware of her own surroundings to stay safe.
Those same traits that scare me are also some of the best parts of her. Cordy’s innocence and sweetness are unending. She still has that ability to charm everyone just as she did as a baby.
And just like when she was that not-so-tiny eight-pound infant, screaming in my arms, she’s still proving that I have little control over the direction motherhood will take me. I’ll continue to love and protect her the best I can, while she will continue to grow and amaze me in ways I never thought possible.
Happy birthday, Cordy. And thank you for letting us sing happy birthday to you this year, even if you still covered your ears.