Today I find myself decluttering. It usually makes me feel quite a bit better, when I’m in one of those random “funks”.
But if nothing else, today’s chore left me feeling more gloomy than anything.
I first tackled the hall closets, our makeshift office in the spare bedroom, and then turned my attention to Beckett’s room.
Truth be told, there isn’t much going on in our son’s room; To declutter, or otherwise.
Of course, he has a sturdy, nice bed (complete with ladder and slide actually).
There are various decorative pieces on his walls, mainly Disney photos and quotes, of course; All secured higher up so our sweet, adventurous, autistic 5 year-old, Beckett, can’t reach them.
We learned the hard way (several times) that that’s a “no-no”.
But other than that, the only thing to admire in his room (for safety purposes) is his big, blue, star-covered toy box.
And the contents of this toy box have spun my world upside down this afternoon.
No warning. No mercy.
When Beckett was smaller, I imagined his space to be filled with dancing lights, and dolls, action figures, and blocks. Maybe even board games, or a fun hideaway tent.
You know, a quaint version of the picturesque children’s rooms you see reinvented on magazine covers and in commercials.
But as he has grown and found his own kind of happy, settled between the layers of nonverbal autism, those things just don’t exist in his world.
Year after year I have built on the excitement in my mind, of the coming year’s birthdays and holidays.
What should we get our beautiful boy for his birthday?
What should we wrap and put under our tree for Christmas?
But year after year, the plans that I once had, to ignite a new flame of interest for our sweet boy, are extinguished… morphed.
We bought the blocks. They were thrown under mattresses, inside kitchen cupboards, secretly hidden away in dresser drawers.
We bought the fun, stimulating dancing LED lights and they were knocked across the room.
We tried the action figures, and toys with music (my boy loves his music!), but they were never even touched.
He was gifted an adorable little Mickey tent (we thought would be fun and also functional, for a quiet place), and it lasted less than an hour.
I want to be clear – it’s not about the “things”.
It never was.
I want with everything in my soul, for my son to be happy.
And whatever that looks like for him, and whenever he feels it, is what makes my heart sing.
But much like the twinge of an injury, the endless reel of “mom guilt” doesn’t go away just because you had put a bandage on top. It’s still there, lurking underneath.
The sting of “why was my son dealt a life marked with so much challenge” [extreme prematurity, disabilities, communication barriers, and coping struggles] follows me around some days.
Like a cloud filled with rain, sprinkling at the most unpredictable moments.
I just want to help my son.
And like any parent, I have a bleeding want for his life to simply come easy for him.
For the rest of his life to come so much easier than his abrupt, painful fight entering this world.
So today I sit here in his room, not stepping on Legos, or picking up action figures, but instead, among the numerous plush Disney toys, the few favorite bedtime storybooks, his beloved plastic spoons, measuring cups, and kids tablet.
I bag the remaining toys, with all their life left in them, and load them up for donation.
And in the same breath, load the online shopping cart with more sensory friendly toys, and those meant for that of child in infancy.
Those with the boxes and tags that read “0-12 months”.
As first time parents, we explored every next stage based off of Beckett’s age.
And then one day, in (what felt like) the millionth occupational therapy session, I made the conscious shift somehow in my mind, that it doesn’t matter what interests he has, as long as he has them.
I doesn’t matter in the slightest what age those tags and boxes suggest, if it brings my son joy.
If it is something in this unpredictable world that he is passionate about.
After lots of questions, and research, and all-nighters, we now put our focus on making purchases for his sensory input, and safety, and things that provide him with security, and help him to cope.
Things like his cozy sensory swing, now hanging from our ceiling in the basement.
His miniature trampoline for jumping.
And his compression sheet, wrapped securely around his mattress, to provide those loving squeezes he craves so much.
It’s ok that another family will love on these other toys far greater.
Another child will appreciate the contents of this toy box, filled with good intentions.
And we are nothing short of blessed, to get to continue to love hard on our sweet, adventurous, ever-changing, spoon-loving, happy boy.