For those not aware, we celebrated our son’s birthday recently (and according to him, it’s his ‘birthday month’ so we have to let him do whatever he wants and we can’t punish him – that’s one wish we WON’T fulfill). Every year I post on social media how much he means to me and that really, it’s the happiest day of the year for me. Even though he gets all the cool new gifts, it’s my day to be thankful for my greatest gift. Here’s my social media-appropriate excerpt (not that I cuss in my letter to him, but c’mon…I have to leave some things private to our family)…
Rise and shine sweetheart! It’s not often that I wake up before you (WHY?!?! SWEET JESUS CAN’T YOU SLEEP IN!?!?!) but the day of your birth, I did. I went downstairs and prepped some things for the party we were hosting that day for all of your friends (one of 4 parties you had this year). Soon thereafter, you woke up. But it wasn’t just a regular morning. We decorated your door with streamers and balloons and propped your gifts up downstairs directly in front of your room so when you came out, you’d see them all. You were so frickin’ happy! And that made me super happy. You asked us “why’d you do this? Do we have to clean it all up now?” Because I wanted to celebrate you! And no, we don’t have to clean it up yet. In fact, several weeks later, there are still streamers on your door and the balloons are still being kicked around our home. We got you all the things that we knew you wanted…and then some. We don’t usually go the ‘extreme’ route with gifts, but this year we wanted to because you opted to ask your party guests to donate to a local organization instead of bring you gifts (here’s where you can tell all the nay-sayers: of course it was my idea. But when I presented the idea to you, you eagerly agreed. You said “I have too many toys anyway. I feel bad for kids with no toys.”) So, yeah, you deserved all the things you wanted. You earned them.
I was actually going to write this post about how much you mean to me and how you inspire me, blah, blah, blah…but I’ve said it all before a thousand, if not a million times (and splashed it all across social media). I’ve heard the snide comments: “we get it, she loves her kid. She was about to die and didn’t wanna leave her kid…got it. He’s special. She loves him more than we love our kids. He’s better than our kid”. Here’s my thought on those haters: screw ’em. How I feel about you is in no way comparative to the relationship other parents have with their children. I’ve not particularly cared for what people think of me and I’m hoping you get that same attitude. You’ll learn it’s really a less stressful way to live. 😉
But then I put you to bed one night and this happened:
“I wish there was no sickness in the world. Then you wouldn’t have to leave me to go to the hospital.”
WOW. Let’s just say you didn’t fall asleep at the time we had anticipated that night. And other than convulsive crying and sobbing all night, I’d say it was a pretty calm night for me.
One of the times that I have dreaded the most in my life has come: the time when you’re old enough to realize the situation we’re in and what it all really means. You’ve always come with me to all my appointments and procedures (when you’re not in school now); my medical community has become just as big of a part in your life as any other group. And up until now, a hospital stay for me was equivalent to a ‘work trip’. I was gone, we’d video chat or you’d visit, Baba and almost every time, YiaYia would be there to take care of you and then I’d come home. A few nights gone, no big deal. You were too young to really digest the severity of our circumstances.
This last time I was in only 3 days and you spent the night at your Aunt’s house playing with your little cousins and you had a great time (we really do have the best family). But the first night I was back home, you said IT to me: you missed me for real. And you said something so wise beyond your years and introspective that it took me aback: “I loved having a sleepover but I wish it was because we wanted to have me sleep there and not because I had to stay there because you’re in the hospital”. Do you see what I mean?!?! Do you see how wise and intelligent you are?!?! I hope your earliest memories of me aren’t of me sobbing. I try to frame my emotions in ways that won’t affect you, but you get it. And each and every time, you hug me, you cuddle me, you stroke my hair, you tell me “everything’s ok mama because we have the strongest family and I love you”. And then all is right in my world because I know you do.
But here’s where your early-age wit and intelligence breaks my heart: I’m having conversations with you that I didn’t want to have for a long time because you ask. We’ve had to delve into death, burials, God, sickness, medicine, hospitals, etc at an age where most other kids are only worried about learning how to ride a bike. It breaks my heart to know that I’m the reason why you’re forced to grow up much quicker than most other kids. Sure, genetics have made you intelligent (you can thank me for that, even though your father will fight me on that ;), but it’s my circumstance that has made you contemplate life and mature quicker. And quite literally contemplate life and death. I can’t express to you how sorry I am for that.
Your birthday is such a time of celebration in my life. But with each passing year, I’m reminded that you’re digesting how your family life is different from your peers. The older you get, the more you question everything. Let me divert from the medical thing for a moment…shortly after your birthday, you lost your second bottom tooth (you’re too frickin’ cute!). And you couldn’t reason how a fairy could come into your room and exchange your tooth for money. Here’s a few things you said to me that night:
- ” Ghosts aren’t real so she has to be a solid body.”
- “If her body is solid, how can she pass through walls/windows if they’re all locked?”
- “If the whole world can be explained by science then this doesn’t make sense. Is science a lie?”
- “You always tell me to use my brain and try to answer any questions I have about the world with science. My brain tells me this fairy isn’t real.”
And on, and on, and on…. I did the unthinkable: I destroyed your innocence and told you the truth about the tooth fairy!! I had to. You wouldn’t let up. (And then you followed it with “why would you lie to your son?!?! Do you want me to have the wrong information!?! You’re not setting a very good example right now.”) . HAHA! You want an answer to everything (I’ve been able to maneuver my way around the concept of Santa Claus, for now….for now…although last year was tough. We had to tell you about your ‘elf on the shelf’ too) . And for that, I couldn’t be prouder. Even though it was difficult for me to navigate, I was so proud of the questions you were asking me. You always show that kind of deductive reasoning and curiosity.
You know what I’ve learned over the years honey? I shouldn’t feel guilty about my pride in you. I used to feel awkward talking about your academic performance or developmental milestones (just the straight up facts, I mean), but I won’t apologize for it anymore. For those that think I brag about you too much, here’s my perspective: there’s nothing wrong with showing pride in your children. I’ve never said you’re perfect: I hold you accountable when you make the wrong choices. But when I feel you deserve accolades or admiration, I’m the first one to shout it from the mountain tops and I want you to know that for the rest of your life I will be your biggest fan. I’ll spend my entire existence trying to be the best mom I can be for you. You deserve it. Even though I try to show you on the regular, your birthday lets me reflect on how much I have to be thankful for and reignites that motivation.
But enough about me…it’s your birthday (HA! At the end of my blog I say this!). You, my boy, embody everything I had wished my child to be. You are this brilliant, witty little man who holds me accountable for everything I do and say (sometimes calling me out on things I don’t want to be called out for! You little s***…). You’re uber-funny (your father will fight me till the death on this one too, but you can thank me for your sense of humor too). I’m proud of your heart and kindness (like deciding to gather donations rather than accept gifts). You’re well-mannered and respectful – too many times I make the mistake of expecting other kids to behave like you. How other kids behave (or rather, I should say misbehave) isn’t our problem and your confidence to make your own choices is what I’m proudest of (so many to choose from though!). You can see a whole group of kids doing one thing, but you have no problem turning around and walking away. I always tell you to be a leader and not a follower and you’ve taken it to heart. If you make bad choices, at least they’re your own bad choices. I’m harder on you than most other parents are on their kids (and you’ve said it to me before too!). But as we always say “the proof is in the pudding”. I’m no one else’s mom but yours. And trust me, I’d have it no other way!
I’m not sure when you’ll read and really appreciate everything I write to you (my blogs, my social media posts, my cards, my letters, the little notes I leave around the house or the journal I keep for you) but whenever it is, I hope my words convey my heart and soul to you. I want you to really know about my character. Forget all the noise, what you hear or read. You know me. You know the type of woman I am. And besides your baba, you’re the only one who genuinely does (I’d say, sometimes even moreso than baba too). So, please, trust in my love for you. Trust in your role in my life. When you’re feeling defeated, when you’re feeling down, remember, I will always believe in you. Trust in yourself. Every night, before we say our prayers, I always tell you “You’re my angel, my blessing, my breath. I love you and I’m SUPER proud of you.” I just hope you’ll take that with you everywhere you go, with everything you do and for the rest of your life because I’m prouder to be your mama more than anything else in my life. With that, you can sit back, smile, and appreciate that we can both just…breathe.
I hope you had a phenomenal birthday honey (c’mon…even you have to admit…”birthday month”?!?! That’s ridiculous). Happy birthday to me, I mean you, I mean me, I mean you…..YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!
Your mama – “lubin” 😉