Tuesday, March 18, 2014

To My Boy

To my son in the month of a very special birthday:

I wrote this same type of letter to your brother a year ago.  It was difficult to write, typing through the tears. You are a completely different person, so this letter will not mirror that one except for this; I’m going to start with the exact same sentence:

I don’t know what to say to you. I know what I feel, but I’m not sure words do the depth of these feelings justice.

The road to where you stand today was not an easy one.

You know that you were an InVitro baby and that when I was 10 weeks pregnant with you I woke up in a pool of blood. For weeks it looked like I would lose you. But we fought, you and I. It was a sign of things to come.

When you were little you had trouble keeping anything down. There were times when I questioned your ability to hear. You loved to rock. You were the only one-year-old I know of who had a baby swing in every room and would pump it like you were on a swing set, rocking the legs right off the ground.

As a toddler you fought for coordination. You would orient yourself by coming to me and standing with your heels on my toes. You walked into walls and fell down stairs. Regularly. More often than not.

At some point I realized that the pediatrician was not giving credence to my concerns. Against his advice, I took you to an ENT. I thought I was there about frequent ear infections but one look and he knew you had issues with swallowing and with balance. You needed your tonsils and adenoids out, sinuses drained and tubes in your ears (the first of about 5 sets).

When they rolled you into surgery, my heart broke. We spent that night, you and I, in your hospital room. Me in the chair, you in my arms.

And then you were like an infant again. What little sense of balance you had was skewed, you finally were able to gain weight, you literally had to learn to negotiate your body through space all over again. Or really for the first time.

Through determination and perseverance you learned to swim, to ski, to sometimes walk through doorways instead of into walls.

Yet still you fought for coordination, orientation, didn’t cross the mid-line, couldn’t read cues, had frequent ear infections, a hyperactive gag reflex, unrelenting eczema on your palms, a tremor.

Peanut Butter Cup Squares - Baking In A Tornado
Chocolate and peanut butter, your favorite. This one’s for you:
Peanut Butter Cup Squares

Where most kids do well because of their education, you excelled despite yours. I believe a school system should address a student’s ability to work at the highest level of their own individual capacity. That actually is the mission statement, apparently they didn’t read it. They repeatedly made it clear that facilitating your ability to function at a personal optimal level is not required by law if they can document that all students meet the bare minimum of district requirements. And they can document anything they want. You were at the top of your class year after year yet to this day your handwriting is the same as it was in kindergarten, you still cannot take legible notes. PT was denied. OT was denied. The OT did put a big sign on your desk telling you to write neatly. I had it removed. That sign would not diminish your tremor, impact fine motor control or visual/spatial issues. Why embarrass a child you refuse to work with? A laptop for note taking? Denied as well. I fought that battle for years and years. I lost. I'm sorry.

Once I realized that their agenda was in conflict with yours, I took you to Boston for an honest evaluation. One of the issues the doctors identified was that you have a disorganized mind; meaning that it takes you that much more effort to do the work of others as you approach tasks in a haphazard, hit or miss fashion.

I found you a private OT for the fine and gross motor, tremor, nystagmus, visual/spatial and mid-line issues. Your third grade teacher worked with you after school on his own time. He saw what I saw, he just wasn’t in a position to publicly say so.

You and I became a team; the concrete and literal son and the sarcastic mom. We worked together developing strategies that would impact organization, interpreting cues, identifying sarcasm, prioritizing tasks, distinguishing what’s salient and keeping you on track in school. You worked hard, adopted the strategies and became . . . you.

Now not only can you do anything you need to, but you kill it. Despite challenges in the way you approach tasks and over a year of suffering from mono, you are in the top 4% in a high school class of 600 students, you're the president of a club, have a great group of friends, work year round as a lifeguard, teach swim lessons, belong to a gym, and participate in volunteer work.

Yes son, through it all, here you are an independent (sometimes to a fault) self-sufficient (ditto), honest, hard-working young man. In our family you have always been the peacemaker and the keeper of confidences.

You are, you always have been, a person of honor. I cannot think of a single thing I would want you to be more than that.

I was recently challenged with putting my feelings about you into 20 words or less. Dissertations would not be accepted. This is what I wrote:

Your intelligence will take you part way.
Your character will take you the rest.
Watching with pride.
Mom, Dad, Brother

Happy Birthday, Son.
I love you like crazy.
Mom
Baking In A Tornado


Peanut Butter Cup Squares
                                         ©www.BakingInATornado.com
 
 
Printable Recipe
 
Ingredients, cake:
1 stick butter
1 stick margarine
¾ cup smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
2 cups flour
24 mini Reese’s cups
Ingredients, frosting:
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
 
Directions, cake:
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13 pan with non-stick spray.
*Melt butter and margarine in the microwave. Wisk in the peanut butter. You may need to microwave 15 seconds more to be sure it’s smooth.
*Mix in the sugar and brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Wisk in the eggs, then mix in the flour.
*Spread evenly into prepared pan. Place the mini candies evenly spaced over the top of the batter, gently push them partially into the batter.
*Bake approximately 35 minutes or until the top springs back to the touch. Cool completely.
Directions, frosting:
*Melt butter and chocolate chips in microwave until smooth, mix in the vanilla.
*Carefully mix in the powdered sugar. You don’t need it to be completely incorporated, just enough so it won’t fly out on you when you beat the mixture.
*Beat in the heavy cream. You can adjust the consistency with more cream if too thick or more powdered sugar if too thin.
*Spread on cooled cake.

46 comments:

  1. Wow!!! cannot believe what you have both endured....cudos to both of you!!

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  2. Karen, this brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing human you've created, raised. The pride is evident. This is a team that will stay together through out time.

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    1. I had a lot to work with, he truly is a great kid.

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  3. There's nothing like a mama bear fighting for the life of one of her cubs. You are amazing and your son is proof of that. Happy birthday to J!

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    1. Thank you, it's been a long road but he is every bit the amazing person I knew he could be.

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  4. Beautiful words, beautiful tribute and the love of being a mother shines through every word.

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    1. Thank you, Cydnee. It was a hard road but he's such a great kid.

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  5. Oh, Lord, Karen. All I can think to say is that he is so lucky to have you, and you are lucky to have him. He will do great things, and you will be the mother who saw his potential. Loved your post!

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    1. Thanks, Lorinda. I agree, he will do great things.

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  6. Made me cry. I have not had a similar journey, but as a Mom I understand your need to help your children be all that they can be, to be their #1 cheerleader, and to love them no matter what. You should be proud of the results of your collective hard work. It's too bad that there are so many roadblocks that make it so hard for people in your situation. Fortunately, "mama bear" and her "cub" did the hard work and when you do the hard work you end up where you're supposed to be. Good luck.

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    1. Thank you. There are regrets, but knowing I can't go back and change anything, I'm happy with what we accomplished.

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  7. Good freaking gravy, girlfriend... you need to put an emotional disclaimer and tissue warning at the top of these incredible posts of yours! I'm bawling like a baby and SO delighted that a mom and her son have the connection of teamwork and love that supersedes all others on this earth. <3 Happy birthday to your boy!

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    1. Thank you. Hard to believe my baby is such a big boy. I'm so incredibly proud of both of my boys.

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  8. Wow. This is powerful. It's heartwarming to read of the triumph over challenges, though. You and your son are an admirable team. Thank you for sharing this moving tribute to a fine young man.

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    1. I'm forever grateful to have been a team with this child. He was so open to the things he needed to do and that makes all the difference.

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  9. What a truly beautiful post and tribute .. .and what a team.

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    1. Thank you. I'm so proud of all the efforts he's made over the years. He has a bright future and he deserves it.

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  10. Wiping the tears and swallowing a huge lump in my throat, I was in tears after the first 3 lines. This hits me so close to home with my son. What challenges we have overcome and what challenges we meet on a daily minute by minute basis. Happy Birthday to your bright shining star. So proud to have you as my friend and mentor Karen! Nettie <3

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    1. Thank you, Nettie, I'm so happy to have your encouragement in my life. It matters more than I ever thought it would.

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  11. Karen, I echo everyone else's sentiments. I am so happy to have connected with you, a wonderful part of my Goldman family. Through your writings, I feel that I have come to know you and your boys (albeit not enough). You've filled empty spaces in our family history with wonderful stories and, perhaps selfishly, I kvell at the success of your sons and their proud mom and dad. There is no better gift to your son than this post.

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    1. Thank you. I'm so glad that FB allowed me to find you as well.

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  12. Definitely needed a tissue warning with this post. Just beautiful! What your son (and you) has accomplished! It just boggles my mind. Thank you so much for sharing! :)

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    1. Need a tissue for reading all the support as well. Thank you, Diane.

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  13. You are killing me Karen!!! What an amazing post from a mom to her son. I don't even know what else to say but I was captivated reading this and I'm so grateful to also know the love between a mother and son. Happiest of Birthdays to your son!!!

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    1. Thank you. I know that you too will fight every battle for your twins that they need you to fight as they grow up. It's what moms do.

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  14. Dear Karen, you know recently I have been thinking in songs. This is for you and your son: against all odds!
    Respect for fighting and never giving up! Happy Birthday, that cakes looks wonderful!

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  15. Wow! You should be proud. He should be proud. You should both be so very proud. Together you started the journey not knowing where it would take you. When you found yourselves at what others would deem a brick wall you broke through it. He is lucky to have you and I know you feel lucky to have him. This was beautiful Karen. Happy Birthday to your son. I can't wait to hear about where life takes you both from this point on. The sky is the limit. xoxo

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    1. I agree, he's a great kid and the sky truly is the limit. He's off on his own and I'm so excited to see where he goes.

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  16. Karen, what a very powerful post. You and your son are a dynamic team and he sounds like one wonderful young man. You are a very strong and loving mother. I like many others had tears in my eyes while reading this post.
    The cake looks delicious.
    Thank you for sharing this post and I wish your son a Happy Birthday

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    1. Thank you, it's a milestone birthday for an amazing kid.

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  17. Well crap Karen! Thanks for making me bawl like a baby first thing in the morning. sheez
    LOL
    What an incredible message to your son and thank you for sharing something so personal with us, your lowly readers, friends and followers. He is a strong young man, determined and with you as his cheerleader, he will go far and do well in life. May God bless you both!
    Dawn
    Spatulas On Parade

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  18. Just an amazing letter to your son. Sounds like you brought up a great young man. Happy Birthday to him!

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    1. Thanks, Phil. Guess it's no secret I'm a proud mama.

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  19. Wow, I was almost in tears at the end of that. What a beautiful tribute! You have been through a lot. It sounds like you have a great kid! Hope he has a wonderful birthday!

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    1. So hard to believe my baby is a grown man. So proud of the man he is.

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  20. You made me cry in my coffee :') What a beautiful letter, so thought-out, so real. I knew things had been a struggle, but I had no idea to what level. What an amazing mom you are, with an incredible son. Thank you for sharing this with us. xoxo

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    1. Thanks, K. He's a remarkable kid, both of my boys are. Even with all the challenges I know I'm very lucky.

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  21. Typing as tears are rolling down my cheeks. What a beautiful tribute to your son! You've both been through so much, from the very start. Be proud of fighting for what you knew was right, because it sounds like the fighting resulted and a wonderful young man! <3

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    1. Yes, we all need to follow our instincts and fight for our kids. It would have been so much better to have had the support of the school system, but it is what it is.

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  22. This is absolutely beautiful Karen. I only knew part of the story. You must be some proud parents. He sounds like an awesome and resilient teenager.

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    1. Thanks April, they really are awesome boys, both in their own ways.

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  23. Blown away, tears, what a remarkable young man.

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    1. Thank you, Donna. I'm so proud of all that he's accomplished.

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