In some ways, the memory of the birth of my firstborn child is so fresh it hurts. And in other ways it is so foreign and removed and so long ago that it is like a story I am telling that isn’t really mine, as if I am recounting a movie plot or a book I read.
Did I really do that? Grow a child and give birth, primal and bloody? Did I actually nurse him and marvel day in and day out at his emerging chubbiness and funny faces? Was his hand actually able to fit in the palm of mine? Was his first utterance of “mama” as full of love and sweetness and breathtaking innocence as I imagine it was?
He is turning 14 in two days. He is now two inches taller than me. He gives me the side eye when I go for a fist bump. We laugh a lot, we drive one another crazy. He is a true teenager in all his loud music and sarcasm and angst and moodiness, but still with a surprising need for heartfelt mothering every now and then. He creates his art with subtle ease, sketches of dragons appearing on the paper like medieval dreams poured from his soul. He is nothing like I expected he would be and everything I wanted but never knew I did.
With all the days gone by now swept into the recesses of my mind, I find myself not regretting the passage of time with too much bitterness. Rather I find myself feeling lucky and joyous that I was privileged enough to experience all of this. All of this: the joy and precious moments and frustration and exuberant kisses and true deep love. And what keeps me grounded and not frivolous in my sadness of time gone by is that no matter what, I will always get to be his mother. It will never be taken from me. My baby will forever be mine in my heart. And I can only hope that the experience of being his mother will be mine for years and years to come. So that I can witness his growth into whoever he may become.
And that will always be enough for me.
Happy birthday Nick.