My little girl turns 5 today.
Over this past year she has worked hard, doing 30 hours per week of ABA therapy to help her with the disabling effects of her autism. She has been a little trooper through the bulk of it. While she still isn’t talking, her focus is much better and she has learned quite a bit. M is much more “present”. On top of her rigorous therapy schedule, she has also experienced the separation of my husband and I during this year, which was a pretty ugly thing for a few months.
Through it all, despite whining here and there, she has been a little sweetheart. I wanted to do something extra special for her this year, and make sure she understood it was because of how wonderful I think she is, how hard she has worked and how good she has been. Yes, I suppose I am doing the single parent overcompensation thing… so what.
I decided to tackle renovating the large but hideous bedroom above my kitchen for her, which is why I haven’t posted as much as usual recently. It is actually the largest bedroom, and the old horsehair plaster walls were not only in rough shape, but covered with some mighty nasty wallpaper. The ceiling of the closet had fallen in to boot. While the quantity of work to be done in the time frame I had was daunting, costs would be minimal. Lucky for me, a friend volunteered to help.
The “before” picture was actually taken about halfway through the plaster skim coating process. It already looked 100x better than when we started. That vivid pink on the walls is Glidden’s Watermelon Smoothie, very appropriate considering my daughter’s obsession with watermelon, and mine while pregnant with her. The tin ceiling got a fresh coat of white eggshell enamel. Trim was done with semi-gloss and baseboard heat covers were spray painted. The floor was painted, since neither budget nor time was available to install new flooring, and I had a lot left from an earlier project. I fixed the closet with some drywall I had on hand and her grandfather installed a new ceiling fan.
During the renovation process I took M aside several times and explained to her that the room was being done special for her, that she was a good girl, worked very hard, and mommy loved her so she was getting a big new room for her birthday. The huge smile and hugs I got told me I was on the right track. I still have a lot of projects to do to complete the room, but I moved her bed into the new room yesterday morning, giving her time to hang out in there, before sleeping in it. When I woke her this morning, she looked around and her face lit up all over again.
Seeing your child so filled with joy, and knowing that in that moment she feels completely loved and appreciated is pretty dang awesome.