Friday, June 26, 2009

Happy 5th Birthday, Jack

My Jack. You are turning 5 years old. Unbelievable.

When I’m at the grocery store, loaded down with Simone in the sling...and you and Andrew in the cart... I inevitably hear refrains of “They grow up so fast.” And it’s often followed by, “I know it doesn’t seem like it at the time…”

And yet, it does.

You are five.years.old. How this happened, I have no idea. I get these flashes of images in my mind of that tiny little body coming out of me, 5 years ago. You and I had such a hard labor, such a long struggle for you to be born. You didn’t look good. Your color was off and you weren’t moving like you should. They whisked you away to a corner and Dad peered through the crowd of people working on you. I think part of it was the euphoria that you had been born and the triumph of childbirth... but partly, I think, it was this sense I’ve always had about you. Your Apgars might not look good, but you would be okay. Better than okay. You would be strong and resilient and fabulous.

They brought back to me this tiny bundle of person, wrapped in a blanket and wearing a tiny knit hat. I had only a minute with you in my arms, staring into those sweet, alert, knowing eyes, and then they took you upstairs. The nurses, the midwives, and everyone were sure that I’d panic that you were gone. But there was this instant connection. I couldn’t wait to see you again and wanted to get up there right away. But I knew that we had so much time to learn each other, and that the bond was in place even though you were a floor away.

Those eyes, little Jack. I wish you could know what I saw that day, when I stared at you in that little blanket. I knew you’d be something amazing in life. Who knows what your life might bring…what you decide to do with your path in life. Maybe you won’t be interested in great wealth or fame or something else that people often crave…but you’d bring something truly amazing into the world. You were exactly the person you were supposed to be. I couldn’t wait to get to know you.

I feel that way even now. I’m learning more about you every day. I’m seeing this shadow of your grown self coming through. Who you’re going to be. I love it. You have this soulful wisdom that you brought with you.

Dad and I often shake our heads at wonder with you. The things you tell us. What your mind can create. You make me so aware, every single day, that parenthood isn’t about bestowing what we want or desire into our child. It’s about finding out who they are. What they were “sent” to do. It’s about finding you, not sculpting you. I can teach you things along the way…no picking our nose in public, how to treat others with kindness, that some words are best said in the bathroom…

But the truly core things about who you are, as Jackson William, were there that moment I experienced you after birth. Your personhood. I believe you’ll become that person you’re supposed to be, if I can open your life to as many experiences as possible and support your whims and interests along the way. I can set out this buffet in front of you of all the wonderful things in life – amusement parks, your "special" classes, travel – and then see what you put on your plate.

Because of the strength of your sense of self, I keep scrapping these thoughts I’d pre-decided in my head. That part of parenting is bringing me more joy than anyone could have explained to me before your birth. I love learning who you are. The things you discover and chase down. You’ve connected me with a love for science…your artwork that you create…the gentle wisdom about how to care for people.

Thank you so much for being my son, Jack.

And I will close this year’s letter in the words of YOU, at age 4.5: "You know what the most important thing is? Being yourself. And reading."

I couldn’t have said it better myself. :)

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