I thought that my maternal intuitions would just show up upon your arrival, like the breast milk and out of town visitors. I thought you’d look familiar but I saw nothing of myself in your mass of black hair and ruddy skin. I thought that I was ready to settle down and be a mother but I fought my restless spirit tooth and nail as we sat in the rocking chair for hours at a time while you cried, and I cried, while we cried together. I thought it would be easier, raising children.
I remember when you started reaching for me from the arms of distant relatives and strangers, many of whom were older, wiser, more comfortable with babies. That you preferred my inexperience to the clucks and coos of others was surprising to me though it shouldn’t have been, as you were formed inside my belly, being nourished off my body, as your attachment had nothing to do with my qualifications. It felt good… no, amazing to be wanted over anything or anyone else.
It’s a wonder to me now that all first-born children don’t end up skittish, indecisive and with a permanent nervous twitch in their eye. With all the worrying…no, obsessing that I did over developmental stages, dietary habits, and any behavior other than sitting quietly with a smile, one would think, my dear Elijah, that you were well on your way toward a lifetime of pull-ups and playground squabbles. I erroneously believed that by reaching our emotional limits we were proving ourselves defective, rather than human. I did that just today, doused your adolescent smoldering with excessive measures more appropriate for a raging fire. I overreacted and I shouldn’t have…I am sorry.
I adore your imagination, and the way you soften your voice when talking with your two-your-old sister. I delight in your ability to read aloud from any text with inflection, making proper use of commas and exclamation points. I am challenged by your ever more complicated inquiries about relationships and faith and evil. I am abundantly thankful that you trust me enough to share your secrets with. I am amazed everyday that you are just like me and nothing like me simultaneously. When I pause to really stare at you as an individual, instead of as a duty, I see muscles in your calves, the sharpening of your facial features, impending signs of manhood that nearly take my breath away. Last week, I swear, you were joined to me at the hip and now you're pining for your freedom, off and running in hot pursuit of independence.
I used to assume that only other people had nine-year-olds, more mature moms and dads with steely will power and an unlimited supply of patience. My existance, I figured, would be one continuous saga of toilet training, nursing, night waking, and Sesame Street. That you grew up this much without my noticing makes me determined to slow down, to stop over evaluating, to just enjoy you. Elijah, you are an incredible young man, whether because of me or in spite of me, I couldn’t say. I hope you know that everything in my life is more significant because you’re in it. You are a gift, my path to Christ, my motivation to quit messing around with trivialities and start tending to the things that truly matter. I love you! I love you! I love you!