Esther and I were busy seven years ago. We looked forward to becoming parents. and eagerly waited for our son to be born. And waited and waited.
As new parents, we looked forward to the next step in our lives — parenthood. We prepped and planned and tried to anticipate every situation and scenario. Our lives were going to change, but we were a little cocky too. Like most first-time parents, we thought we had everything under control and parenthood wouldn’t change our lives too much. And like most first-time parents, we learned we had no clue what was waiting for us.
Cristian came to us at a good time, we were mourning the loss of Esther’s mom, and we didn’t know my dad was suffering from the same illness. He helped us navigate a painful experience the way only a new baby could, with a 1000-watt smile and the cute way he had.
As he grew, so did the challenges. There were simple ones, like daycare when I went back to work and more intricate ones like, why is he different?.
As parents, we learned to adapt our lives to the child we have. Esther is constantly seeking doctors, support groups, and the best activities to help his development. I got a crash course in parenting an autistic child. We agreed long ago, to keep an open mind while exploring all options, so Cristian could have as normal a childhood as possible.
Along the way, Cristian made me a better father and a better person. Through his eyes, I’ve seen a world I didn’t know existed, he taught me the difference between empathy and involvement. I’ve accepted that he’s different long ago, but spending time in our own little bubble during Covid gave me a glimpse of his intelligence, playful personality, and sense of humor, even though his 6 am wake-up calls were rough.
So, today is Cristian’s birthday. I’m happy at the child he’s become, but a little sad too. I miss the round-faced little butterball he used to be. That little guy is gone, replaced by a curious little boy who keeps me on my toes. As parents, we can only give him the tools, to be the best person he can be.
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