I became a mother for the first time on Valentine’s Day in 2007. Bayden was brought into this world rather quietly until he realized he was no longer in the confines of my womb. This small five-pound, fifteen-and-a-half-ounce bundle of joy became a screaming ball of nerves when the lights of the delivery room reflected off of his beautiful hazel eyes. He calmed at the sound of my mother’s voice as they cleaned him up and wrapped him in that hospital nursery blanket. He was absolutely the most extraordinary creature I had ever laid eyes on. I stayed up until 3 a.m. the night I gave birth just staring at him, and marveling at the fact that this perfect little human was made from my body. He was my first baby. He’s affectionately known as my Scooter.
The second time I became a mother was April 23, 2011. Jonathan came into my life rather abruptly when I had completely given up the prospect of ever finding Mr. Right, and running in all directions behind him was Ethan. This extremely hyper two-year-old came with a head full of curly hair and a severe case of non-verbal autism. He was sour when he didn’t get his way, and sweet when he sought comfort or your forgiveness. I quickly dubbed him my Sour Patch Kid.
In those first few years, I would stay up until the early morning hours with the two new men in my life. Ethan would not align to a normal sleep schedule, but we soon found out he could be soothed to sleep by the drone of the TV and the sound of my voice. Jonathan could never get him to eat a decent meal, but he was always more than happy to share in whatever happened to be laying in my plate. More often than not, I would settle beside Ethan for dinner, and spoon fed him small portions from my own evening meal.
As he grew older, medical help was sought for him, and he began a regimen of ADHD medicine that seemed to calm our spirited child. This worked well, especially in the education department, and he was able to focus more on his learning abilities. He learned to write his own name, and recognize other letters. He correctly pointed out colors and numbers, and started mimicking the actions of other children engaged in seemingly normal things. To an outsider looking in, this may not seem like much, but for an autistic child, this was leaps and bounds.
Potty training has been a whole other affair. Back in the early years, it was nearly impossible to even get him to look at a toilet, much less use one. Today, he will use it more often than not, whilst still reminding him every hour on the hour to at least go try. He seems to be the most delighted by the “presents” he leaves for us in the potty, and like all 12-year-old little boys, he loves bathroom humor.
Ethan’s favorite color is orange or Thomas the Train blue. His favorite food is chicken nuggets, but he can be coaxed to eat almost anything homemade as long as chicken and potatoes are involved. He loves things that are crunchy because most children with autism do have problems with textures when it comes to foods.
French fries are a favorite, and if I had a dollar for every one that he has eaten, I’d be a very wealthy lady. He has his own cookie jar that he is absolutely obsessed with, and the minute he walks in the door, he runs to check the contents. I also wish I had a dollar for every chocolate chip or Oreo cookie that has passed through that jar.
He loves to watch YouTube. He will sit for hours on end building towers with his megablox while the sounds of four wheelers or trains drones on in the background. He loves dinosaurs and painting. He loves coloring books, and gets a new box of crayons every time he visits a store. He hasn’t met a gummy bear or fruit snack he doesn’t like.
Things aren’t always easy sailing. He has his quirks and his tantrums. Ethan does things to get your attention, and he has nervous habits that he can’t shy away from. He has his moods, and fights sleep sometimes like a wild screaming banshee. But no matter what, we love him. We love him through his bad times, and we treasure the good times. He always seeks my approval more than he does his daddy’s, and best of all, he calls me Mama.
I didn’t step out into the world seeking to have another child, but the Lord put him in my life. They say that He gives the special ones to special people, and that’s why I cherish BOTH my children. I love my first, my Scooter, and I love my well-placed second.
Ethan is that sour, but sweet child of mine.