Fourteen years ago tonight, I was nine months pregnant. Getting ready to go to sleep, I suddenly felt my water break. Contractions quickly followed.
A trip to the hospital, many hours and a c-section later, my son, Ross Gerard Bichler Kaplan, came into the world. I had no idea how much he would change my life.
Parenting is always life-changing and always involves a learning curve, but because of my son’s autism, diagnosed when he was three, I suspect that our learning curve has been steeper than most.
Despite the clever and well-meaning anecdotes that are often dispensed to parents of children with special needs, parenting an autistic child is less like visiting Holland when you had planned to go to France, and much more like taking a trip to the moon when you had planned to stay on earth. Your sense of normal gravity is forever altered.
Still, the moon is a wonderous place–far more interesting than either Holland or France, once you master the gravity and the trick of carrying your oxygen with you. And yet, even once you believe you know the terrain, it changes and will always change. You are always re-learning how to walk, how to breathe. How to keep breathing.
My little boy is now fourteen, taller than I am and sporting facial hair. He is a young man who still loves drawing pictures and watching Blue’s Clues with mom.
He has shown me worlds, and possibly taught me more about myself than any other human on this planet. And I am still learning.
Happy Birthday, Ross.
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