Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy 7th Birthday, Baby Jack

My Jack,

You are the child who began my motherhood.  When I was birthing you, all those hours of knowing that soon I would be holding a child, I had no idea what to expect.  What would it be like to be on *this* side of motherhood?  The one rocking babies and singing off-key lullabies, slicing hot dogs into circles, filling stockings on Christmas eve, and sending letters to you at camp?

Motherhood has been nothing like I expected.  And perhaps that's in large part because YOU are nothing like I expected.  

Primarily, I didn't expect you to come out so fully-formed.  I thought I'd be laying this foundation of brick under you - layer by layer - until at some point, you'd look like a fully-formed, functional human being.  I didn't really know other babies and toddlers.  I had no nieces and nephews, and we were among the first of our friends to marry and have babies.  So much of my wonderings about mothering you were blanketed in complete ignorance.

Now I get it.  Now I understand that when you create life, you're actually just inviting it to join your family.  You're not inventing the person or even really constructing them. You're just the vessel in which this life forms and emerges. 

From you, I have learned that we are who we are.  That whether a person is 2, 22, or 102...there is a very special wiring in every individual that needs to be understood.  Listened to. And celebrated. 

When a 4-year-old falls madly in love with the Russian language after watching a silly library video, as a mom I needed to listen to that because it meant something. I didn't know then...and still don't, for that matter...how it's going to play out in your life.  But I am grateful to your 4-year-old self for begging for Googled audio files in Russian for 3 weeks...requesting Russian food for dinner every night...and basically, making darn sure your parents paid attention to who you were telling us you were. 

Because of that experience and so many more from you, I listen differently to everyone I meet.  What are they craving out of life?  I listen more to everyone in the family, including encouraging Dad to go back to school and be who he really wants to be.  I might tease him about being an accountant and an actuary, but I love that he loves his statistics and calculus.  It reminds me that it takes all kinds of minds to make the world work. 

When you were younger, I remember wishing I had the guidebook for how to parent you.  But I'm learning, over and over, that YOU are the guidebook.  You are telling me who you are...what you want...and I just need to tune into that. That's going to create the path for the journey you're supposed to go down.

I have a feeling we're in for a pretty interesting journey with you, kid.