Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stocking Stuffers

I remember when Dear Son was a little boy. It was always hard around Christmas trying to find the right toys for him. It seemed like my life was forever entrenched in the Toys R Us aisle for kids 0-12 months. Year after year, that was my aisle. When Dear Son was a baby, he never hit any of his milestones. Even after that, the milestones were few and far between. Shopping for Christmas toys was a reminder of that. As his chronological age grew, his developmental age remained the same.

When Dear Son missed his milestones, I began to write him a letter from Santa that I would put in his stocking. The letter would highlight the one or two things that Dear Son accomplished that year, with glowing words of praise from the one and only Santa. It was a reminder of sorts, that we were moving forward and that while his accomplishments may be small, they were accomplishments, nonetheless. Each year, the letter would be written on a colored sheet of construction paper and placed in his stocking. And every year, the letter would end the same way, “All my love, Santa.” Some years, I’d write the letter at three a.m., after I came home from singing in the church choir for midnight mass. Other years, it was done sooner. I am not sure who the letter was really for, if it was for him or if it was for me, but it worked.

On Christmas day, or sometimes even a day later, I would sit Dear Son on my lap, and we’d look in his stocking for the letter. I’d read the letter to him and he just loved it. More often than not, we’d read the letter over and over. He seemed to enjoy it as much the fifth time, as he did the first. Although the letter was short on accomplishments, it was big on love.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped writing the letters from Santa. I am reminded of them when I hang the stocking or when I look through his memory box. But this Christmas, the memory of that letter, keeps coming back.

At the beginning of the year, Dear Son would sit up in his rocker, his head pressed against the window, and look out the patio door. He’d watch the ducks, birdies and ground squirrel that would come up to eat the bird seed. Over time, he began to fall over to his right side. After repeatedly sitting him back up in his rocker, I began to move the rocker over to the dining room table. It was there he would listen to his music, with his head lying on the table. Soon, the image of his head against the window looking out, was just a distant memory.

Over the last few weeks, he began to cry out when he was at the table. He could no longer sit up for more than an hour and a half and needed to lie down. The first time it happened, I thought he might be tired or getting sick, but now, I know we are heading down the path, losing skills along the way. Saturdays are the worst. Just this Saturday, he was up from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and then had to lie down and slept until I got him up from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. It’s almost like clockwork now. He hits the ninety minute mark and he cries out to let me know he needs to lie down. Once he’s in his bed, he smiles at me, as if to thank me, then quickly falls asleep. The house is quiet, too quiet for a weekend. It feels lonely too.

As Christmas approaches, I am reminded of those letters to Santa, each with the little milestones. The milestones, that took years in the making, are going away, and going away quickly. I am missing my Dear Son already. It’s too early for a silent night.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

fingers running too fast...had to delete comment and re-write it so it makes sense...sorry!

I suggest you write the letter again this year. I'm sure Dear Son would enjoy it. I think both of you would get something out of it. Good therapy for you.

Big hugs.

Ashley's Mom said...

I agree with Lois. Write a letter again this year. I think you both would benefit.

You are in my thoughts and prayers,

Poppy Q said...

Dear Dream Mom,
Santa would be happy with just a smile!! Thinking of you and dear son, and sweet wiggles and sending you some big hugs from across the oceans.

Julie and poppy Q

Anonymous said...

I feel the poignancy of your posts and your blog moves me. Reading it has helped me understand my mother's devoted care giving to my disabled father. One of your posts said something like "their life becomes your life" and it gave me clarity into my mother's mindset.

I hope you have people in real life that you can call for emotional support and that someone nurtures you.

LauraJ said...


Mona Cardwell said...

Dear Dream Mom, I recently found your blog thru 5MFSN and I am so glad and grateful to share your journey with Dear Son. Mona - SeaGlass blog

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