13 Years Ago Today

It is Saturday, March 10th 2012 and 13 years ago today, I woke up to a very different life. Shockingly, I didn't drink coffee or wine.  I was organized and disciplined.  I was ideological and judgmental.  I had never heard of Osama Bin Laden, iPhones or autism.  If someone had told me what 2012 would be like, I would have laughed and said, "you left out the flying cars!"

March 10th, 1999  Kitzingen, Germany

I woke up at the crack of dawn because I hadn't been able to sleep in weeks.  I was 40 weeks pregnant and tired.  We lived in a tiny government issued, war-time apartment in a beautiful small town in northern Bavaria.   Paul's first assignment with the Army was in Germany and we were so young, but so wide-eyed and excited to be on this new adventure together. Although we had no family within 3000 miles, we had friends, many of whom have come to be our dearest in the world...Kathleen, Dan, Shauna & Stacey.

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:)

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  1. Beautiful! Happy Birthday Jackson

  2. Good Morning! I remember the day he came into your lives! What excitement! I remember thinking, "They are so young. They don't have a clue as to how this child will change their lives. It will never be the same again." All of these thoughts followed with a smile. Because you see someone said that to me one time. I didn't believe them. Boy was I ever wrong. You said it well when you said, "I just got a different attitude than I expected." You could not have been closer to the truth.
    Congratulations on your beautiful smelly boy with attitude! He has changed your perspective and increased the love you have to give. Happy birthday Jackson! I wish you a superfantabulous day filled with a multitude of blessings!

  3. I love those birthday reflections...you have an amazing young man in your midst.

  4. I have loved that boy and his mama since I met them in Germany! What I have learned from your family (and continue to learn) is immeasurable. God knew what he was doing when He formed Jackson Paul and presented him to the most amazing parents I know - Paul and Ali! You continue to inspire me in new ways every day! Thanks for sharing your heart and your life with us!!


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