Dear Miss Mouse,
It is the last day of your fifteenth year. You started tenth grade this year and finished during a pandemic, still rocking your 4.0 GPA. It was not the year we imagined it to be, but you handled it with grace and poise, nonetheless. I love watching the proud woman that you are becoming. You danced into my life sixteen years ago tomorrow and things have never been the same. I love how completely you love and accept your friends, how you are an advocate for your brother, how you nurture all who cross your path. I love how you sing when you are happy, no matter who is listening. I love the pictures that you draw and the poems that you write. I love how you are eager to get up early with me and go to the gym to swim or work out.
I hope your sixteenth year is good to you and your are good to it. You don’t know it yet, but I am giving you driver’s ed lessons for your birthday. As well as a shopping trip to replace all the clothes you have rapidly outgrown. Next weekend you are going camping with your best friends. We looked for jobs for you this summer, but we are also in the midst of a recession. Thankfully, there are kind neighbors who will pay you to walk their dogs, babysit their children and weed their gardens. I think you will find this work much more satisfying than retail.
You and I were late coming to the autism party. I had no idea that I was on the spectrum until I was diagnosed at age 46. It did not occur to me until then that you might be on the spectrum because you are so much like me. Your diagnosis came at age 14, earlier than mine, but later than Boo’s. But, here we are , one happy autistic family. The only one who has never been diagnosed is your dad, but every therapist who has seen him on our journey agrees with me, dad is definitely on the spectrum, too.
Go forth into your sixteenth year with joy and courage. Shine your love on a sometimes undeserving world. You will find that grace comes in the strangest of places, that angels really do walk among us, and that you can do anything you set your mind to do. All my love, your biggest fan, Mom.