With my belief in all things supernatural, you can sure bet, I am not a fan of the unlucky number 13. I never pick the number 13 when I play the lottery. I think it's horribly unlucky to get out of bed when the clock flashes any number:13. In fact, I'm so superstitious about the number 13 that even childbirth can't get in the way of my crazy beliefs.
Ryan's big brother Kyle was born on Thursday March 12th at 10:28 PM. Once I finished watching Friends and Seinfeld (my gosh, I love epidurals) and discovered how close I was to delivering my poor baby on Friday the 13th, I pushed Kyle out in less than 30 minutes so he wouldn't spend the rest of his life cursed. And even though 80% of the world's high rises do not have a 13th floor, if my bad luck found me in one of the 20% of high rises that had a 13th floor, I would sleep in a cab instead, as long as the cab number wasn't 1313.
Clearly, I am not alone in my Triskaidekaphobia, the fear of poor unlucky number 13 (if docs give such fear a name, than by all means, that fear is the real deal), since many folks go to extreme measures to avoid 13 in any way they can.
Many airports skip the 13th gate because AWEnestly, who wants to ride on an unlucky plane (I think the fact that those monstrosities can fly in the air in the first place is pretty darn lucky)? Many airline companies take the fear of 13 so seriously that they do not include a 13th aisle on their planes for fear those seats would always be empty. Apollo 13 is considered the only "unsuccessful lunar mission" since it did not land on the moon. Coincidence? I think not.
Those incredibly superstitious Italians omit the number 13 from their lottery, and in the streets of Florence, the house between number 12 and 14 is designated 12 1/2. Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue, and here is a little superstitious food for thought, if you have 13 letters in your name, it is said you will have "the devil's luck". Guess who had 13 letters in their names...Jack the Ripper....Charles Manson...Jeffrey Dahmer...and Theodore Bundy (I counted, they really do have 13 letters). Have I given you Triskaidekaphobia yet?
You see, today, this squishy faced, looks like I gave birth to him under a pile of rubble, boy, turns 13 years old. And even though the word "teenager" is enough to make the least superstitious mom shudder just a wee bit, today the words "thirteen" and "teenager" do not have me crossing myself or wearing a large rabbit's foot as a pendant (a rabbit, by the way, does not feel lucky when you carry his foot around). Instead, those two sometimes scary words, have me feeling nothing, but, good fortune and joy in my heart today.
I never once considered myself unlucky to have Ryan as my son, but, my friend Denial had me believe that autism was just a case of bad luck and there was nothing I could do about it since it was just the card Ryan was dealt. "Sorry about your luck", Denial said as she rubbed her rabbit's foot hoping my bad luck would not rub off on her.
It turns out, The A Word, like so many things, had nothing to do with luck or superstition. Autism did not seek my son out due to some spilled salt I inadvertently threw over my right shoulder instead of my left, or because in some drunken college day stupor, I failed to see a ladder and staggered right under it, autism has nothing to do with being lucky or unlucky. Just like that penny you find on the sidewalk, picking that penny up isn't what determines your luck, it's what you decide to do with that penny once you own it, that determines your luck.
Instead of worrying about the funny faces Ryan makes and the silly scripting that he does, I find myself in AWE, and I smile and feel pride at how lucky Ryan is to have such a phenomenal memory. Instead of feeling my heart break every day Ryan chooses to be alone, I feel lucky that he is able to entertain himself and find peace in such solitude. When I worry about Ryan being different and not "fitting in", I realize how lucky he is to just be himself and to believe and feel that he is "amazing" with little concern about how others see him. When Ryan tells me that he doesn't really have "too many friends", I feel lucky that Ryan has one friend with whom he can script away and feel safe being exactly who he is, exactly who he was meant to be. When I get frustrated that autism makes some things more difficult for Ryan than for others, I feel lucky knowing that things could be so much harder for him.
For 13 years, I have had a healthy, beautiful, funny, intelligent son who brings joy and love to my life. Life is full of cracks in the sidewalk that you step on, ladders that you just can't avoid, and black cats that come out of nowhere, but, it's your perception that determines your luck. Some folks may believe that Apollo 13 was a "failed mission", but, to the astronauts who survived that mission and to their familes who were so grateful for their safe return, there was nothing about that mission that was unlucky. And although a handful of evil people who had 13 letters in their name, may have had "the devil's luck', and committed unspeakable acts, fortunately, there are millions of people whose names are comprised of 13 letters who have done nothing, but, good, for this world such as, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi (I counted them all twice, for good luck, and yes, it's lucky 13).
So, even on your worst day when perhaps you are too busy texting on your phone and you fail to see that you and a black cat are about to walk under the same ladder, you can either pick that cat up and walk under that ladder together, and make your own luck, or you can run away and hide in the bushes, hoping that lucky rabbit's foot you are rubbing will bring you all the luck you need (the rabbit, says pick the cat up and run under the ladder). It's the choice you make that will determine your luck.
Am I still superstitious? Yes. Do I still suffer from triskaidekaphobia?Undoubtly yes, since I waited until 6:14 to get out of bed this morning, but, today, as I post my 100th blog on my son's 13th birthday, I feel nothing but good fortune.
Since starting this blog I have had many comments, emails and phone calls from people telling me how lucky Ryan is to have me for his mommy. Funny thing is, I disagree. First and foremost, if we want to give this over to luck, than I am the one who is lucky, not Ryan. For some reason, I found the elusive four leaf clover and every day for 13 years, I have been able to marvel at my good luck.
For someone as superstitious as me though, I don't believe my relationship with Ryan has anything to do with luck at all. I was not destined to be Ryan's mommy because of luck, or fate, or because I could "handle it". The bond that Ryan and I have formed has nothing to do with a rabbit's foot, spilled salt, or an averted black cat, it is quite simply the love between a mother and her child. And although I still will avoid walking under ladders or getting out of bed at 6:13, one thing is for sure, when it comes to the love between a mother and her son, there is no such thing as "unlucky in love".