Tomorrow is my birthday. And five days later, my oldest son will turn nineteen. The same age I was on the day he was born. I look at him now, a man living on his own struggling with the desire to feel confident as a man living on his own, and I want so so badly to give him everything, just as he has done for me.
Before Jory was born, I dreamed with all my soul of being a mother. Never was there a doubt in my mind that I would be good at it, that I was born for it! I've known from an early age that what I wanted more than anything was to be a grown-up, a writer and a mom with happy dirty barefooted kids. In all honesty, I never imagined anything else for myself. This dream fit me perfect and always invited comfort.
I knew I would be a great mother, because I was gifted with one of my own. I was certain that not only had I learned from the best, but that I would be even better! After all, I wasn't a certified weirdo like my own mother, nor would I be expected to do it all on my own, as she had been. So on December 17, 1993, after the pain and the vomiting and the pushing and the tearing and the fear that I wouldn't be able to do it, I held my firstborn son in my arms. I was immediately amazed and in love. And then quickly I was shocked and confused to feel my first--of what would become many!--terrorizing moments of mommy fear. This tiny little boy with wrinkly skin and black hair looked like a stranger. I was comfortable and proud to hold him and sing while he cried, but utterly confused and at a loss when my love didn't comfort him. There was never a moment when I worried about loving him, that came naturally, but there were many, many moments when I worried and wondered if loving him was enough.
With Jory, everything was a first. And with him I was constantly trying on new parenting hats, trying to find the one that would make me look like a natural mother to others, and might hopefully feel comfortable to me. Rarely did I wear any one hat long, always casting it aside for another style that might better impress and make me feel good about myself. Consistency was not my strong suit and Jory shrewdly noticed right away. I wanted so badly for him to love life, love childhood, love himself, love his brothers and love me that I was afraid to put my foot down too harshly.
However, because of Jory's zest for life, his fort building and play writing and dance choreographing and spatula stealing (okay" that one's weird!) and friend having and family loving, growing up as a mom has been a fun kind of struggle. I made many classic parenting blunders with Jory, but always he loved me.
In order to be worthy of that love, I insisted on figuring it out. I admitted to my blunders and asked for advice. I gathered that advice and inspected it with an open mind and a desire to discover myself and my own parenting personality. In this way, because of Jory and his brothers, I have discovered myself again. The "me' I imagined as a little girl.
Jory has given me the gift of everything. While I rocked him and sang to him and grounded him and questioned him and danced with him--I discovered myself.
With every part of me that I discover-- my writing self, my parenting self and my grown-up self--I hope to give him all of that in return. I hope to encourage self-reflection, an open mind, a love of working hard and a desire to laugh often, a feeling of kindness and of intelligence and self-confidence.
With all of my heart and soul, I strive to gift him with everything.