Happy Birthday Jude

Happy Birthday Jude

It’s Jude’s birthday!

8-years-old today.

I know every parent in the world says it, but where does the time go?

It seems like only yesterday Jude arrived into our lives, (7 weeks earlier than he should have), and in the blink of an eye 8 years have flown past.

So what are we doing to celebrate?

What do 8-year-olds do these days to celebrate birthdays?

I’m a bit out of touch, but I remember having a McDonalds party back in the day. McDonalds was a treat then, not a regular twice a week stop off that it seems to be now, but hey, times change. I remember going to football parties too, and a few years ago I was busy organising and throwing tennis parties for other kids around Jude’s age.

I’m sure whatever it is that’s popular these days it still involves a party with other kids, presents and cake.

Yet, it’s not quite like that around here, we have to celebrate it in a way that’s much more low key.

You see, Jude doesn’t really understand what a birthday is (at least I don’t think he does), and other kids and noise are is his least favourite thing right now. So there’ll be no party. His last one was 4 years ago, and that was ok, but we realised we were doing it more for us than for him, so there’s no need to make him go through that pressure.

There won’t be many presents. Jude’s not interested in opening them, has never been motivated by toys, so we’ll try and find a few sensory things he’ll enjoy and just introduce them to him over the day.

There will be a cake, but no candles. We would be the ones blowing them out, so again, who are they for?

There won’t be any singing happy birthday either, Jude’s so noise sensitive right now the likely outcome would be a meltdown, so we’ll give that a miss too.

So what will we do?

It will be just like any other day, filled with us trying to make life easier for him, and giving him the opportunity to do the things that he loves. In short doing everything to try and make it a ‘Happy Birthday’ for him

With all of the sensory challenges and anxiety that Jude has, that means keeping the house as calm, and peaceful as possible, the complete opposite to what an 8-year-old’s birthday party would usually be like.

If we achieve that he’ll have fun. We’ll have lots of balloons to play with, lots of bouncing on the bed, deep pressure squeezes, tickles, cuddles and plenty of iPad time. All the things that Jude loves to do.

As the day comes to an end I’ll try not to let my mind wander as it has done on other birthdays, these sort of occasions can do that to me. Birthdays can easily become reminders of where I thought we’d be right now, and how far from that our lives really are. Another year having passed with the basic milestones you take for granted as a parent still not reached.

This always used to ruin the day for me. I mourned the life that I thought Jude should be having, the life that I thought Jude deserved. The parties we’d have with all of his friends, the house full of family celebrating his special day.

But I try not to dwell on that anymore, thinking like that doesn’t help anyone. Instead I will try to focus on what we have to be grateful for.

The joy this amazing boy has brought to my life for the last 8 years. The amount of love we have for each other that needs no words to show it.

The milestones we are going to celebrate passing in the years to come, made all the more special by the journey we’ve been on to pass them.

Today will be about celebrating Jude for the beautiful, loving boy that he is

I’m stronger than I was at previous birthdays, so there’ll be no tears this time.

At least I hope I am.