Tag Archives: teens

A Letter to My Son on His 13th Birthday

We interrupt the Nepal travelogue to bring you this shocking news: I am now the mother of two teens! How is that possible?

photo taken March ’08, at Great-Grandma’s 90th Birthday Party

Dear Aidan,

Some parents will tell their teenagers that “it seems like only yesterday” that they were born, that they were learning to sit up or walk. And I’m sure it’s true for them – I’m not knocking it. But you and I both know that it’s been a long road in this family. And while I can’t believe you’re 13 (!), it doesn’t feel like yesterday that you were little.

Of course I remember holding you, rocking you, singing to you. But I also remember that soon after you were born, Nigel began exhibiting signs of autism, which we didn’t know at the time. And then both of you exhibited extreme sensory distress and significant language delays. For a while, I thought I had two boys with autism. And while you were never officially diagnosed, you also had special needs that had to be addressed.

But whether you had special needs or not, you have always been special to me, and important. I just want to make sure you know that. Because in spite of having your own needs, you have often had to take a back seat to someone whose needs overrode yours. And you have always done so with love and acceptance. I know you often felt like you were the older brother, having to look out for Nigel. When you were younger, you wondered why your brother acted the way he did. I know you still do. And I know it’s been hard for you, especially at school, to carve out your own identity separate from your brother’s and to deal with the comments of small-minded peers.

I so admire you for your perseverance, and your courage. You faced a scary health problem earlier this year, and I know how that worried you. I was worried too. I’m so relieved that the surgery was successful and that you’ve recovered. Your best friend moved away a few months ago, and that’s been hard for you too. But you started hanging out with other kids and made the best of it, and I’m so proud of you. You’ve even started eating new foods. You are resilient, responsible, and resourceful.

I love your amazing, intelligent, creative mind. I’m in awe of the questions you pose and the deep, philosophical discussions we’ve had. I enjoy curling up on the couch with you and watching movies. I’ve missed that so much this summer! And I’ve missed you. I’m sorry I can’t be with you on your birthday, but you’ll be home soon, and we’ll make up for it. I’m glad you’re having this time with your dad, because that’s important too. I know you miss him a lot during the school year, and you do the best you can with that. Like I said, it’s been a long road in this family.

Happy Birthday, Aidan. I’m so happy that you’re my son, for so many reasons. I hope that your first year of your teens is way cool!

All my love,


P.S. Being a teen has its privileges. You’ll be happy to know that I’m finally getting you a cell phone.