Eight years ago this morning, I became a mother. I use the word 'became' loosely, because it implies that it just happened, like with the ease of a quick flip of a switch instead of the 12 hours of labor I endured. The truly wondrous part of this whole process was the fact that Sam always managed to have a large bite of something (peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a dreaded banana, those crunchy Chinese nibbles that smell like dirty socks) in his mouth when a contraction hit me, so he'd breathe right in my face as I dutifully performed my Lamaze breaths. My grueling effort paid off in spades, though, when this warm, wet, fresh life was laid upon me, as Sam and I both laughed hysterically and sobbed at the same time. There is nothing on earth that could match that high.
Have you seen this Subaru commercial?
I hear you, Subaru dad. Nowadays, I have to regularly remind myself that the whole point of having children is to raise them to be independent, confident, successful adults that don't need their mommies--which is of course completely contradictory to how those mommies feel inside. Sam and I have recently had many Jackson-centered conversations, discussing things like when he should fly alone for the first time (answer: this upcoming Thursday), is he ready to go to sleepaway camp for 3.5 weeks (answer after a few rounds of discussion: yes--he's going to Plantation Farm Camp in June), is he old enough for his grandfather to give him a pocket knife (answer: yes, but only to be used with supervision on certain occasions).
Um, wasn't I just holding his tiny body over my shoulder, smelling his sweet milky breath after a nursing session? Didn't we just erupt in applause and celebration as he took his first steps at Casey and Martina's house? I could have sworn I just saw him walk bravely into his kindergarten classroom for the first time.
So more and more I see that being a mother is synonymous with letting go, and I'm doing my best. And I embrace the times when I can care for him, and show him how special he is, this firstborn of ours.
When Jackson came downstairs this morning for breakfast on this first morning of being 8 years old, he saw this:
Tattered Cover is an lovely independent bookstore just a mile down the road, and I could live there. Apparently, so could Jackson, from the look on his still puffy-eyed with sleep face when he read it.
Forbidden Island game Sam bought him. Uncle Matt and Aunt Bodia gave him a headlamp for summer camp, and Uncle Bodi and Aunt Monice gave him the Rat-A-Tat Cat game that the kids had enjoyed playing over Spring Break in California. Grandpa Ed and Merry gave him a Swiss Army knife and the classic The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Jackson will fly to Arizona on Thursday to spend a long weekend with his Nana and Papa, which certainly deserves its own post upon his return. For his birthday party, we'll be taking three of his friends to the Real Pirates Exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, followed by the Born to Be Wild 3D IMAX movie and then some time at the park before enjoying an ice cream cake (that I should be working on instead of writing this).
To Jackson Tate, my oldest boy--I am so proud of the thoughtful boy you are. When I asked you today what kind of cake you wanted, you asked me if I could make another ice cream cake like last year, but with chocolate ice cream because you think your friends would like that flavor. When I pressed for your opinion about adding a layer of cookie crunch, or jam, you said as you waved your hands in an explaining fashion like Papa does when he talks, "Mom, I told you that chocolate ice cream is good, and you can do just that or get as complex as you like, but I just don't want to be greedy." Honey, I want to make you the cake of your dreams for your birthday, so it's impossible to be greedy when it comes to your birthday cake.
You are the quintessential oldest brother. A few days ago, you taught Alex how to make scrambled eggs (and wrote down step-by-step instructions afterwards as well). You are exceedingly patient and model my *sometimes* calm, matter-of-fact parent voice when Kenyon is being his brutish self and exerting his impenetrable 3-year old will. You are visibly distressed when Kenyon is upset, akin to a twin feeling the other's pain. I watch you on the playground after school with Kenyon and how you hold the wobbly playground structures stable so Kenyon can make his way across like a big kid, even carrying him to the next one on that one part that's too far apart. You could ignore him and run off with your friends, but instead you create a game where Kenyon can play, too.
Daddy and I get frustrated sometimes when you are too doting with Kenyon when it's time to be a little tougher and not give in, although we know there are worse problems to have between brothers. I've also heard from school that someone gets frustrated with you in the cafeteria because you and Alex hug each other as you cross paths and it gets disruptive. Again, there are worse problems to have. You tell me you remember the moment when you were riding your bike down at the far end of our street and you suddenly felt like you should have a second brother, right before Daddy and I decided to have another child. I'm so happy that your brothers have you in their lives.
I'm so excited to go to Australia with you because you are my best seafood partner, and your positive adventurous spirit will make every experience we have as a family more rich because of it. I love you, big kid.