Our son, Colin Joseph, celebrates his fourth birthday today. And being a late bloomer in all aspects of life, I never expected to carry the title of husband and father. Yet here I am, nearly 51, a family man who has shed his bachelor status. And being the father of an autistic child has taught me the importance of striving and attempting—because that’s all you can do is try—to practice patience, humility, gratitude and acceptance. Acceptance is the key.
I know this evening when we celebrate Colin’s birthday, he will likely not blow out the candles or eat a slice of his birthday cake. He may not pick up or play with his new Woody and Buzz Lightyear toys. He may preoccupy himself with the string of the balloon my wife bought him. And that could go on for hours.
We work hard to help Colin improve his communication and social interaction skills. But progress is slow, and we don’t know if he will get better with time. So I have to remind myself to love the child we have, exactly as he is right now, knowing he may never become a “normal” boy. It’s a crude reference, but the situation calls to mind the Stephen Stills’ song, “Love The One You’re With.”
“Well there’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you’re with …”
For now, I am grateful for the blessing of the little angel/mischievous rascal who turns four years old today.