By time you read this, my son, Jackson, will have turned 13.

I have my own shock at how these last 13 years have passed by so quickly.

I am still telling myself, like any other parent who’s been through this: I can’t believe I have a teenager…

Most of my readers know that Jackson has autism and for all of his 13 years to date, he’s been just about one of the happiest children I’ve ever had the opportunity to know.

I write this week’s blog in tribute to my new teenager and from a bittersweet place in this pandemic.

When everything began with the coronavirus last year, it affected our ability to see Jackson as frequently as we might normally.

His mother and I have maintained a great relationship despite our marriage not working but the initial fear when businesses were on lockdown last spring, led us to agree that perhaps it was safest and best for all parties that we put a pause on visitations until we all felt more secure with how the virus spikes were happening.

So, we didn’t see Jackson for about 2 months last spring and then we tried to pick up frequency when things “seemed” normal again. However, that was before a November spike happened in the state of Ohio and we put a pause on the visits again.

Unfortunately, during that time, Jackson’s mom tested positive for the virus and she self-quarantined away from Jackson and her boyfriend so that they were not at greater risk to catch it.

The good news is, she has mostly recovered and is trying to get back to her previous strength and stamina relative to where she was prior to diagnosis. And, Jackson remained negative.

So, as a father, it’s been tough to go through so much of the holiday season and into his birthday month with only a handful of FaceTime calls to get us through. If there were a silver lining to Jackson having autism, it’s that he has shown little negative effect of being in quarantine. He has access to all of his toys all day long, can partake in school virtually and rarely has to hop out of his pajamas. I’d say, that’s quite an enjoyable life for him.

I know that others have it much worse. I have clients who can’t visit their parents in nursing homes and may have had to discontinue traveling to see family because of safety concerns for elder parents. I can’t rank my pain against anyone else’s.

It’s just part and parcel for how 2020 has transitioned into 2021.

I know that we miss having him the way we did when things were “normal” but that this too shall pass and we’ll look back at this as a small hiatus in his long, happy, healthy life.

Sebastian definitely misses having his big brother around and no doubt will shower him with more attention than he likely wants the next time we have him.

I was fortunate to be able to see Jackson on his birthday after nearly three months of not seeing him. He was, as I suspected, just as happy as I could ever ask him to be.

I write these blogs each year for my boys as part diary and part just a place to put some random thoughts.

To Jackson, he may never be able to comprehend these words but I write them as if maybe one day he could.

Until then, this is my love note to my son: Dad loves you (and misses you) and I can’t believe you’re 13.

Happy Birthday, to my young man, my little “meatball” who is not so little anymore.

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