March 10th, 1999 Kitzingen, Germany
Jackson was born at 4:30pm and after deciding at the last minute to change his name from Caleb Robert to Jackson Paul, we took home a perfectly healthy and wonderful baby boy along with all of our hopes and dreams for him.
If you had asked me what I thought Jackson would be like on his 13th birthday, I would have laughed and said: big, loud, messy and smelly with an attitude. I knew very little about 13 yr old boys and frankly could not imagine my sweet little baby boy as a teenager.
March 10th, 2012 Falls Church, Virginia
I woke up at the crack of dawn because I heard Jackson roaming around downstairs and didn't want him to wake up Paul who has been so tired lately and needs his sleep. As I come out of my room, J strolls up to me, gives me the most genuine hug, kisses me on the cheek and says, "Good morning mom, I love you. Come this way", as he leads me downstairs to the coffee maker where he knows I gravitate this early in the morning. He flops down on the couch, pulls the blanket up under his chin and watches the news while I wake myself up with some strong coffee and check my email.
Birthdays always lend themselves to reflection, and today is no different. Thirteen is a big milestone for some, but for Jackson, it seems less significant. Not because he has autism, but because his whole life has been significant and I have no new or higher expectations for him today that I did not have for him yesterday. Today does not mark the beginning of his manhood, we are not going to send him out into the woods to kill a bear or teach him how to shave. Jackson's impact on the world is not determined by his age, but by his spirit...and God has blessed him with an incredible spirit that has changed countless lives already.
As I am sitting here, I realize that autism has not taken anything from him, it has rearranged some things, but underneath all the challenges, lies a big, loud, messy and smelly boy with an attitude...just as I envisioned all those years ago...I just got a different attitude than I expected:)