My oldest son is about to turn 8, and naturally he asked me about planning his birthday party recently. Thanks to my mother this boy lives for a good party. I told him we’d figure it out after I called the place to see if they had availability for his birthday weekend, and then I started thinking… It blows my mind that the 8 pound baby I gave birth to is nearly a decade old. I can still smell his newborn skin. My eyes well just thinking of the first time I held him and what it was like looking at every inch of him. It is every single cliche possible. It was the single happiest and scariest moment in my entire life.
His birthday isn’t only a big day for him, but it is an enormously significant day for me, as is typical for the birth of anyone’s first child. October 10th, 2009 isn’t only huge because he is my firstborn, but it changed every single thing in my life in ways I didn’t anticipate (outside of the obvious). I was 20 years clueless when I had him aka a Junior in college aka blissfully ignorant. Now the blissful ignorance thankfully did not include a fear or lack of knowledge on babies or their care or anything, thank goodness! I am the oldest of my immediate cousins on both sides, so I could feed and change a baby with my eyes closed, and I knew all the general info, BUT I was 20. Regardless of how bright or mature or independent I was or thought I was, I was still 20. All the things you’re “supposed” to do before having kids, all the lives you should have lived, I hadn’t. I was excited and fearful.
For his birthday, like I do for every birthday of my kids, I thought about what I wanted to post along with a photo collage of them on my social media. What I wanted to post was far too long for a picture caption, so here it is a little early…
When I thought about what I wanted to post on social media for your birthday, the first thing I thought to say was that you were first real thing in my life that was mine. I thought about it for a second and realized that you aren’t mine and never have been. It’s actually very much the other way around.
The day you were born I became yours in so many ways. Everything I did and do still are for you, I gave and continue to give everything for you. From the second you came into this world you have been my greatest test, challenge, investment, lesson, accomplishment, happiness, sadness, struggle. Your birthday has so much more meaning to me than any old birthday. It’s not only a big day for you, but for me as well. I didn’t try for you or plan for you, you just “came about” in a certain sense. I hate when people refer to it as a mistake though, because I could have made other decisions. You weren’t a mistake, you were a choice I made myself.
You changed the definition and direction of my life. You are the thing in my life that I didn’t know I needed.
Khalil Gibran said, “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They came through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”
He was right. Everyday you remind me how much of your own person you are. Even though you are only 8 years old, you are one of the most challenging individuals I have ever encountered. At every turn you show me what to expect and what not to. If I tell you up you say down. You never just do what I say, you question every single thing any person in your life tells you. This is a blessing and a curse. You have struggled in ways I couldn’t sympathize with from experience, but as your mother. Watching you struggle to learn how to talk because of your tongue tie related speech delay was so difficult as your mom. I saw how mean kids were, how frustrated you were by your lack of ability to clearly communicate what you were thinking. I see how that delay has affected your education and lack of enthusiasm for school, and even your diet (children with extended tongue ties and GERD tend to have diet problems). This was me and Daddy’s fault as we weren’t educated enough on the affects of a tongue tie and listened to the doctor’s for longer then we should have without getting a second opinion. Obviously we addressed this with both of your brothers at birth because of what we learned with you. That was a first time parent mistake, you are our experiment baby and we are sorry! (Don’t worry I was Mama and Papa’s experiment baby too since I’m the oldest.)
Even though are you challenging and have faced challenges, you are so sensitive and sweet, and that may be because of your struggles. Those challenges made your emotional intelligence something to be marveled at. You are so very special. You are kind and thoughtful in ways that even at 28, I am not. You are so patient with your brothers, your love, care, and concern for them is so wonderful to watch. You are the perfect older brother.
Because you are so kind and were an only child for quite a few years, you are great at making friends. Everyone in the park knows you and they’re always happy to see you and play with you. The parents are always telling us what a great kid you are. (We are so glad you aren’t one of the increasingly numerous nasty kids at the park!) You have more play date requests then any boy I know and you can find a way to fit in anywhere; even with the big kids who wait to play basketball with you. You have all kinds of friends too. Kids aren’t always nice to kids who are different, even if it’s that they are afraid or mean because they are unfamiliar with their disability. You never are, you don’t even question it and you always defend them. When the teenage boy you play with, who has Down Syndrome, wants to play basketball at the park you always make room for him on your team and always show him all the games you are playing on the court even if its not basketball. Watching you be so kind to him even though he can’t speak and seeing you defend him when the big kids make fun of him is one of the many reasons I am so proud to be your mom. It makes up for the times when I’m pretty sure you were put on this Earth to test my sanity. I so admire your incredibly kind and innocent heart. You don’t have prejudice against anyone. This shows me that Daddy and I did something right.
You ask A LOT of questions. You substitute common sense with questions. This makes me nuts! If it’s hard for you, you’d prefer not to do it, like school. It makes me sad that you have a hard time and don’t like it. But I love that you’re still excited to go every day to be with your friends and teacher. I wish I could make this easier for you and that I had more patience when you’re throwing a homework tantrum. I promise I am working on that, and my patience in general.
Mommy and Daddy get mad at you a lot over silly things that we wish you did less or more of. Now you’re getting bigger and we expect you to do more or less of those things. I’d really like for you to clean your room and put your clothes in the laundry without me having to tell you 40 times. I wish you’d get off the iPad when I tell you to instead of running away to hide with it. I’d love it if you’d just go to bed at night without protesting and telling me you aren’t tired. You are the most “awake” person I’ve ever met. I could also do without the 65 conversations of what you’re going to have for lunch, but I could never do without you!
Every single day, whether it is obvious or not, I get up in the morning for you. I want to be better and successful for you. I want to see you grow and be happy and learn. I want you to have all the things in life I couldn’t. Actually I want you to have whatever and be whoever you want. I want you to see the world and I want the world to know you and how special you are. You won’t know or understand this for a very long time, but anything good Mommy and Daddy have or are is due in large part to you.
You turned my life upside down and inside out. We have weathered so many storms together, you are a trooper and a fighter, and the one of the happiest kids around. You are the greatest thing to ever happen in my world. It is my pleasure to watch you grow, even when you aren’t being a pleasure.
I love you more then you love Roblox.