Nobody sweeter than my Jonathan Peter. A little song I used to sing to him when he was a baby. On Saturday my baby turned 27. We’ve been through quite the journey over the years and I’m so grateful for all he has taught me and the years of unconditional love.
Jonathan is a textbook example of determination and perseverance. He has been that way for as long as I can remember and he continues to amaze and surprise me when I least expect it. He has also challenged my patience at times as most children do.
Autism obviously changed some of that dynamic but his true essence seems untouched. That part of him apparent from day one is still very much a part of him now. His quiet demeanor, keen observation, resilience, kind nature and humor are some of the many pieces that make him Jonathan. Even at the age of 27, that piece of him stays the same.
Recognizing and accepting how he wants his life to be versus what I or others think it should be, especially now that he’s an adult has been trying at times. As his mother it has been my role to lead, advocate, protect and nurture. Letting him take the lead as I slowly relinquish my role hasn’t been easy. While I will always be there for Jonathan until my dying breath, I know it is in his best interest if I start letting him determine which way to move forward. Releasing the boy I still see at times and embracing the man who needs to start making his own way in the world when opportunity presents itself.
Jonathan loves being with family and ours is not so different from any others. We’ve made many cherished memories and traditions over the years. We love, laugh, cry and argue. We agree to disagree. Sometimes we get our feelings hurt, other times we shrug it off. We always have each other’s backs and always will. Happy, sad, mad, tired, stressed or confused to name a few, we all feel it, just as Jonathan does. While we can articulate these feelings and communicate them, he cannot. His frustration has led to moments of self injurious behavior, unexplained tears and even rage. They are the words he cannot express to feelings that overwhelm him. We forgive and move on. Just as he forgives us when we stumble or act out on our own feelings. He understands our words and our love. Autism is a component of how we define family and what makes us The J Team.
I’ve been asked how I would feel if there was ever a cure for autism. I look at Jonathan and the tremendous love and admiration I have for him. Autism is a part of him and while it doesn’t define him, it is an element of what we love about him. I posed the question to my daughters. Their response was an emphatic no, because in their words -he wouldn’t be Jonathan. The Jonathan we have known and loved for 27 years. Our Jonathan, with his big heart, big smile and a big appetite for life.
And because there still is nobody sweeter than my Jonathan Peter!