We are doing things differently. I share this with my son on his fifth birthday in an Untraditional letter for my son.
Today you turn five. Five.
I watch you now, so tall and thoughtful and it is hard for me to remember certain points in your life… what it was like when your body was smaller and lighter and easy to scoop up from a running start. Sometimes I long for the days when your hands were little, your words were limited and your reactions less thoughtful. Your needs are so different now , more mature, less biological. I wonder what this means for us- for our relationship. I still hug you and kiss you and hold you and snuggle you, and now I have to give you more.
I wish I had done better when you were smaller. I wish I had been more patient and loving and kind. I wish I had not been so confused and frustrated and wanting to get out of my new life. I wish I had not wanted to go back to work.
I loved you so much, but I could not accept my new role- it just wasn’t me. I was not prepared. But I was magnetized to you. I could not put you down or stop kissing your nose or smiling at the way your legs moved. You were my first, and I was overwhelmed. I wanted to give you every good thing; like nursery rhymes, peek-a-boo and carriage rides through the park.
Instead, I yelled at you. I blamed you. I got angry at you. My beautiful, sweet, tiny little boy. You were so little. I just did not know- what to do, what to expect, why I was not happy singing itsy-bitsy-spider. Again.
But you were not either! I suppose it would have been easier if you were. But then you would not be you, and this I will not trade; the way you ask why Germany was not our ally during World War II, and the way you open the door for me… that your laugh is full and only offered when you mean it.
Now I can appreciate that we both are different. That we were never meant to make God’s eyes with popsicle sticks or melt crayons under wax paper. Now I am confident about our choices that take us down a different path. I am comfortable not knowing what that is.
I am committed to you Owen; to learning how to do better, to helping you stay fully engaged, and to never again compare either of us to the mainstream. Or to anyone.
We are figuring it out. I am figuring it out- you are responding gratefully. Things are better than they were last year and I know we will say the same when you turn six.
So this is an untraditional birthday letter, lacking milestones and merriment, and perfectly representative of our not so typical path.
Happy birthday my unique and precious boy. I wish you the gutsiest attempts, the hugest failures, and happiness no matter the result.
I love you so very much, Owen.