One of my greatest joys as a mother has been the way that I am constantly learning from my children.
As adults, my children have helped me to broaden my views in so many ways. They’ve challenged me to look beyond my own “echo chamber” and to recognize the validity of other viewpoints.
One of my sons, in particular, has been consistent in his gentle reminders to take other people’s perspectives into account when I form my many opinions. Whether the topic is politics or family dynamics, he has reminded me more than once that my idea of the facts is only my own personal perspective. The other person’s views are based on the way that they experienced the same events; their perspective is valid, so their opinions are valid.
While these ideas have made me uncomfortable more than once, and annoyed quite a few times, I treasure their honesty. I treasure the fact that they have helped me to keep my mind at least a little bit open as I move through this complex life.
Tonight I am thinking of that son. He is on my mind, and in my heart, because thirty years ago tonight, I was working very hard to bring him into this world.
I’m thinking about his birthday from the perspective of a mother. At the same time, I know that he is experiencing the same day from the perspective of a young man.
I think about the night of his birth. I think of my fear that I wouldn’t be able to deliver him safely. I think about my pain, and my hopes and the overwhelming love that I felt for him before he had ever drawn a breath.
For me, this night is a time to reflect on the sweet, careful, thoughtful little boy who filled my heart with his tenderness. I think back on his first smiles, his first steps, his raspy little voice and his wide green eyes. I remember, as if it had been only yesterday, how his absolute beauty took my breath away.
I remember the rigid and righteous boy who saw the world in black and white. The stubborn child who was the only one of my three with enough dug in determination to wait out any mother’s ultimatum.
For me, this birthday is a reminder of all of his birthdays; every party, every game, every sleepover with the boys in the backyard.
Mostly, this birthday is my celebration of the kind, smart, articulate man that grew out of that night of labor. This is my sending up of gratitude to the heavens for having put our son in our lives.
But perspective is everything.
I am well aware of the fact that while I remember the feeling of my baby in my arms, my son is looking back on the first part of his life. I am aware that this birthday is mostly likely a look back, an assessment, and a kind of measuring of where he has come in life thus far.
I suspect that this birthday is, for him, equal parts happy memory and sadness at lost opportunities. I suspect that it is a time to regroup and plan the next steps on his journey.
Perspective is everything.
Tonight I sit on my deck, looking at the darkening sky. I think about how much my love for my children has grown with every passing year. I wish that somehow I could show my son just how much I still love him, and how grateful I am for him.
Happy Birthday, honey.
I love you more than my next breath.