This little boy turns FIVE on Friday, and it blows my mind that it's been nearly five years since we started out on this parenting journey, since our lives were turned upside down by the arrival of a baby who was just a little small, whose heart was just a little weak, whose first smile took six months to happen and first walk took over two years.
I wasn't up to celebrating the occasion. I'm still in a messy place where my mood is up and down and my head and heart are in constant conflict with each other. I didn't want to organise a party. After all, we have no family here. Liam doesn't really have any friends or know many other children apart from the kids at his kindergarten whom we don't know at all. I wanted to let his birthday go by quietly with a simple dinner out and a few presents from us. It was all I had the emotional energy for.
But then I thought... five.
It's been five years since we've had his diagnosis. Five years of doctors, therapists, hospitals. Five years of his heart staying as strong as it possibly can so he doesn't need the most invasive surgery of all. Five years of him trying hard everyday, even though we don't always see it or feel it. Even when I'm overwhelmed by exhaustion or disappointment, my boy gets up every day and he tries, again and again - to feed himself, to eat, to communicate, to connect, to be the affectionate, sweet, stubborn and funny little boy he is today.
So maybe he doesn't understand what a birthday is. Maybe I won't be able to throw a typical birthday party for him with games or crafts or friends who are his peers. Maybe he will have a meltdown halfway through. But I KNOW he will love having people around. My social boy will love having hugs and kisses and attention. He will love the cake I will attempt to make, in all it's imperfections. He will love celebrating with his little kindergarten class the day before with a special morning tea and bubbles and balloons, even if he doesn't understand what it means.
He doesn't require a special themed-decorated party with fondant cartoon characters on his cake. He doesn't need a bouncy castle or a face painter or a magician to entertain the children (even though this might be fun for him in the future).
But he does deserve to be celebrated. And I might not be the most creative person or the best baker or have unlimited resources to throw him an instagram-worthy party, but he does deserve a mum who will try her best, just as he does everyday. He deserves to have as many of the people who care about him as possible all in one room, celebrating him. He deserves to feel like the special boy he is. And even if my best doesn't always feel good enough, I know it will be enough for him.
Which is why I'm sitting here tying goodie bags for his little kindergarten class and perusing simple cake recipes. I'm doing my best. Because he's so very, very loved.