A birthday milestone, my son and autism

Birthdays are a happy occasion especially for kids because it is a celebration of a special day commemorating their birth and it is a time to share the joy with family and friends of this happy, joyous anniversary. We all like the attention and gifts we receive on our special day and it does not matter if we are children or adults. We feel the specialness of the day and we also thank our parents for the gift of life and the many memories they provided us. I remember when I was a young boy and my family celebrated my birthday and how special I felt. It was nice to have presents, birthday cake, a party and my friends sharing my day with me and my family. The memories of my birthday as a young boy remain with me after all these years and I still smile when I think back to those days.
Today I take great joy in celebrating our son’s birthday now that I am a father. I remember the special day when my wife gave birth to our son and how joyous the occasion was and how we felt so blessed. I remember how tiny he was and seeing him cradled in his mother’s arms on his very first day of life. Our son is now nearing adolescence and has celebrated many birthdays now which means I am getting older. I live for my son and wish to do all I can with the love and support of my wife to provide our son with all the opportunities he deserves in his life. He has special needs and struggles with autism and has many behavioral difficulties which affects his situation and has disrupted his education and now he awaits placement in an appropriate school setting where he can get along and learn so he can have the opportunity of going to college one day and live his dreams.
I am celebrating a milestone as I will approach the half century mark in a few days and to me it seems that the years and decades have passed by so quickly. The time is fleeting and I still feel young in my mind and not the 50 years that I am now closing in on. I sometimes wonder how the time has passed me by in what seems like the blink of an eye and feel a bit sad because I realize I am aging and have no control over the future. Raising a child we naturally wish to always be there to nurture them and provide them with our love, support and encouragement. When our child is special needs and is on the autistic spectrum it means we wish to always be there for them as they require so much attention and we will be tested and challenged throughout but our love and support will be unwavering and will help us through the tough days we will encounter in raising our child.
As I turn 50 I can’t help but think about all the things I need to do to ensure my wife and son will be taken care of in the event my health declines or I am called to leave this earth. We just don’t know how long we have to share life with our family and we live and do all we can to provide for our family hoping we will be together for many years to come and live to share and experience our child’s milestones in their life. I feel as I get older my days of walking the earth get less and less and I suddenly realize I have lots of planning to do to see that our son will be protected as his needs become greater. I know we wish to support him through college and with all the financial concerns he will face. It seems I need to find a way to not worry and take one day at a time and stay optimistic as I face another year gone by and a new decade of my life. I wish life was not as complicated as it seems. I have always wondered if there was a way we did not have to worry and obsess over things like we do.
I wish we could be assured that everything will turn out OK. As I enter a new chapter in my life I find I am becoming more spiritual and also grateful for all I have been given. I am happy to be married and have a son and I just want to enjoy the days, weeks, months and years together with my family and hope that when it is my time to depart I will have the knowledge and vision that my son will be able to carry on and live a happy and fulfilling life. I have been emotionally affected by my wife and son in my life and by his condition of autism. I have cried on occasion when I felt helpless in providing my son with all the necessary support and guidance he needs. It is not easy raising an autistic child and it seems that at times we will be wondering when and hoping that things will improve over time. As the years go by it seems those feelings still remain and that is why it is my mission in life to see that my son will be provided the same opportunities as kids his age and that he will be encouraged to always do his best and be given the love and support he deserves each and every day.
As I turn 50 I feel a bit uneasy and scared because I know life is fleeting and I will not be here one day and that weighs on me as I have so many concerns for my son and family and that is based on all I have seen and experienced in my life. I lost grand parents and relatives in their mid 60’s and my mother who I dearly miss died at the tender age of 50 and we just lost our dad tragically so it is rightly justified how I feel.  I will savor this moment and will live each day with a renewed sense of purpose and know in my heart always that it is my wife and son that I live for and I will always try to do my best to make their lives safe and to make them realize how much I am truly grateful for having them in my life and how much I love them both and will make sure they will always be protected no matter what. So as I approach 50 I will keep a positive and happy outlook and know that my family is always there for me too.
Edward D. Iannielli III