I suspect by the time you are old enough to read this you’ll potentially disown me for calling you Joshy Bear! What can I say – it’s a cute nickname and it suits you so much.
I am writing this a couple of days before your third birthday and in a way I can’t believe it. Three years old! It sounds so grown up. You’ve been my baby for so long, even through your toddler years. But now you’ve shot up, you’ve gained independence and most importantly, you’ve found your voice.
Obviously when you are old enough to read this you’ll know that you have autism. And to what degree; at the moment me and your Dad are waiting to get a date for your “Findings Meeting” following the assessment you had earlier this year to determine where you are on the autistic spectrum. And I can’t lie baby, this year has been a long old road.
As your Mum, I knew around a year ago that something wasn’t quite right. You weren’t even attempting any speech and I saw you getting overwhelmed with certain situations and I just knew that this was going to have to be investigated. As I will undoubtedly tell you many times during your life, Mums instinct is always right and although it’s taken a lot of fighting, me and your Dad have made sure you’ve been seen by the right people and will continue to do so because you deserve the best in life and we will fight tooth and nail to ensure you get every bit of support you need.
You are amazing Josh. The progress you’ve made, in the last three months alone, is extraordinary. As I said before, at the start of 2018 you weren’t speaking. You didn’t even give it a go. But you weren’t silent – you’ve always been a noisy little boy which is all part of your charm. But I longed to hear you say some words. Over the summer we started to get a few words here and there which for me and your Dad meant everything. But it’s in this last couple of weeks that you’ve completely blown us away. You’ve been singing your little heart out every day to every nursery rhyme known to man. It’s amazing and it makes me so proud and happy. There is a little park near our house that I often take you and Holly to and one of your favourite things to do there is sit on my lap on the swing and I sing to you. I’ve done it for months now just in the hope you’d enjoy the songs. Clearly you were absorbing the words and the tunes because now you’re on a roll with your singing. And we can see in your little face how happy it makes you to finally be able to express yourself with your voice.
Everyone loves you so much. You do struggle to cope with too many people around (although at nursery you are absolutely fine and sometimes there’s as many as 26 kids there!!) but all your little friends and your cousins just seem to get it. It’s like there is this unspoken respect; they know to give you your space and when you are ready to join in with them they love it when you want to play with them. We took you to a friends birthday party the other day and you were having the time of your life playing with your little NCT buddies (you were all born around the same time and all us Mummies are close friends now). It makes me so happy to see you start to enjoy some of the regular things every two and three year old should be.
Before I knew that you had autism, sometimes I felt so guilty as your Mum. I didn’t know what was wrong; I didn’t understand why you didn’t like certain things or why you would do certain things. I felt I’d let you down; had I not taught you enough or done enough. Now I know that that is a silly thing to doubt; I give you and your sister my everything. And I understand now that you just have your own agenda; you do things in your own time and in your own way. And as your Mum I respect that. I respect you my darling boy.
You have taught me so much Josh. I am not the most patient of people (I don’t do well with queuing or car journeys or waiting in general – your poor Dad has heard many impatient rants from me) but with you and particularly your tough days when you’ve had a meltdown, I’ve had to learn to be patient. When it all started I’d get so frustrated with you and sometimes I’d raise my voice because I thought you were just being difficult. I feel dreadful for that now because now I know you weren’t being difficult; you just couldn’t articulate what you needed or what was causing you stress. So now I know to get down and talk to you quietly, or scoop you up in a big cuddle and take you to a different room for a change of scenery. You’ve taught me to respect your boundaries; sometimes when you’re upset you don’t want a cuddle and I have to wait for you to come to me when you’re ready – I sit near to you whilst you work your way through it and then when you’re ready I’m there, waiting with a cuddle and reassurance. And darling I will always be here with that cuddle and reassurance.
You are the person that made me Mummy. You changed me, entirely for the better. You opened my mind. You created this version of me that I am so proud of. You’ve always been a real Daddy’s boy; you pretty much worship the ground your Dad walks on. We laugh about it but sometimes I got a bit jealous, I was worried you just saw me as silly Mummy who made all the rules and not fun like Daddy. But over the last couple of months I feel like you love me more than ever. Every day we cuddle up together and read and do your flash cards, or of course, sing nursery rhymes. You like to know where I am and if I’m cooking sometimes you just come and sit in with me. My favourite part of day is right before your bed time, it’s just you and I and we cuddle up on the sofa under the blanket all cosy and read together or watch one of the bedtime programmes you like. It’s just us and it’s love and it is everything I could wish for.
I don’t know how old you’ll be when you read this Josh. You might be 18 and rolling your eyes at my sappiness, you might be 30 with a family of your own and completely identify with what I’m saying. But all you really need to know is I will always be here with that big hug, that reassurance, that endless patience (which is only reserved for you – everyone else gets yelled at still!) and as your sidekick. That’s how I see us; a little team. And we’re on a big journey baby, a steep learning curve and I can’t say I know where things will take us because I have no idea. But I do know you’ll never ever be alone on that journey, you are surrounded by love from all of your family, and you should be so proud of the funny, beautiful and cuddly boy that you are at the grand old age of three.
I love you to the stars and back. And I am so glad that I am your Mummy.
Happy Birthday Son