My oldest son is going to turn eleven in two and a half weeks. It’s hard to comprehend. I swear, he was a baby fifteen minutes ago.
His journey has not been an easy one. From pre-term labor scares to a brain injury at birth, from motor skills delays to an eventual diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy, from ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder, to Asperger’s, from epilepsy which has followed him around like a dark cloud from the day of his birth to memory struggles relating to the seizures, from years where he wasn’t growing and I had to beg doctors to pay attention to the eventual diagnosis of Growth Hormone Disorder, this boy has had to be a fighter since he came out of the womb.
We named him Keagan in the womb. It’s Irish, like my Grandma, and it means “little and fierce.” He’s had to live up to his name every single day of his life. He’s seen more doctors and specialists in his short life than most elderly folks have in a life time. Currently, he averages 14 appointments a month.
And now, here he is, almost eleven. He’s smart, sweet, funny, and a fighter. That child could out-read most adults, and began reading before he turned two. He’s obsessed with science and frequently educates the adults around him about a wide variety of scientific topics. But sometimes, he shuts down. Prone to selective mutism, sometimes language is just too much for his overstimulated brain, so he turns it off to protect himself. Sometimes, when there is too much sensory input for his brain to process, he melts down. He can get violent, especially with me. I don’t say this to insult my son. He’s the light of my life. I say this to give an honest picture of what our day to day lives look like in my home. I understand that my son isn’t mean or bad. When the meltdown passes, he is apologetic and back to his sweet self.
Though there are clear differences from my son and other boys his age, he’s also very much an almost-eleven-year-old boy. He loves Star Wars, Mine Craft, and Lego. He’s also getting too cool for his mama, which brings me to the story I set out to tell with this blog post.
This morning, he climbed into my lap, wrapped his arms around me in a a tight hug, and held me in silence for several minutes. I held him back, running my fingers through his hair like I did when he was a baby. I breathed in his scent. I squeezed back. I gave him every bit of my attention for those minutes.
Eventually, his brother popped out of his bedroom and called him away to go play and he scampered off happily. I never got an explanation for why he wanted to climb into my lap, but I am glad that he did.
The thing is, these cuddling sessions are less and less frequent. One day, probably not too far into the future, my little fighter will climb into my lap for the last time. I won’t know it is the last time, nor will he, but it will be the end of an era. He’s a hugger, an I know I will always get affection from my son, however his days of climbing into Mama’s lap are numbered.
I can’t help but think back to the day after his birth. He’d just started seizing and the doctors had discovered a brain bleed. They had to transfer him to another hospital fifty miles away and I was not allowed into the ambulance. Before they swept him away from me, I got a moment to be with him. Panic stricken, I worried it could be the last time I held him. Thank God, it wasn’t. But that moment came back to me this morning. He lived for many more years on his mama’s lap.
I am so grateful for my son’s life. And I am not going to take his cuddles for granted. I am going to hold on tight when he crawls into my lap. I will savor the moment when he climbs into my lap because that last time is eminent. How blessed I am to get to have this era come to an end naturally instead of through tragedy.
Hold on to your kids. So many “lasts” sneak up on you and you miss them. Try to be present for the ones that count.