Friday, October 16, 2009

Thoughts from the day my son was born

As my son has yet another birthday, I can't help but feel nostalgic: boy they grow up fast! I wrote this note to his mother on the day he was born. I ran across it recently, so I decided to post it here verbatim. A lot has changed since then, of course. But it seems like every year somehow gets better than the last, so as much as I sometimes want to freeze him, I wouldn't go back if I could. Still, I can clearly remember how it felt to be a brand new parent, "all potential and promise," with the entire experience still before me. It was the moment I realized that I could and would be a good dad, and that I was going to do my best to enjoy every moment watching my son grow up. I hope those of you who have kids of your own can relate...

Look at our son, so tiny, so beautiful. Feel the soft skin of his cheeks. Hold his little hands in yours. Listen as he breathes what are still his first breaths. He is a perfect, unbelievable, amazing baby boy.

But he is so much more than just that. It is hard to tell right now, but look at him again. Can you see the rest? You have to look hard. The details are fuzzy to be sure, and you can only just catch glimpses, but it’s all there.

He has already learned to hold up his head, to crawl, to walk, to run. He has amazed us with his first words, and even more with every word since. He has learned how to shoot a basketball, how to fix a toilet, how to comfort a friend.

Can you see the look of wonder on his face as he sees his first firefly? Can you hear him describe the thrill of his first roller coaster ride? Weren’t those first few Christmases great? Don’t you wish he was still young enough to trick-or-treat?

He has already been to his first day of school. He has learned which subjects he likes and which he finds challenging. He has graduated. He has gone away to college and he has found his first real job, and quit, and found another, and still wondered what he really wants to do.

He has fallen in love. He has had his heart broken. He has fallen in love again.

I can see him years from now, looking at a photograph of himself as a baby in his mother’s arms. He can’t believe that tiny creature was ever him. Neither can I, even as I stand here and see it for myself. A baby in his mother’s arms.

And as I look real close, I again see so much more. Not just a young mother clutching her newborn infant, but a strong woman who has weathered the storms and the sunshine of her child’s youth. She has cared for him when he could not care for himself. She has fought with him and fought for him. She has taught him and she has learned from him. She has second-guessed herself and worried and struggled, but she has also felt more joy than she ever knew existed. And love. And pride.

Look again at our son. He has already wrapped his arms around you thousands of times and said, “I love you, Mom.” And your heart has leapt each time. But for now, just for now, while he is all potential and promise, you still get to live every one of those times for the first time.

And come what may, he will always be your perfect, unbelievable, amazing baby boy.

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