An Untraditional Letter for My Son on his Fifth Birthday

My Precious Son

We are doing things differently.  I share this with my son on his fifth birthday in an Untraditional letter for my son. 

Dear Owen,

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.



18 Replies to “An Untraditional Letter for My Son on his Fifth Birthday”

    • Thank you Bree. It is tiring to be misinformed about how constant and challenging parenting can be, isn’t it? I’m happy to link up at Twinkle in the Eye on fridays. Thanks for hosting it.

  1. This is beautiful, your son is lucky to have you as a mother!
    And I love that your 5 year old asked you why Germany was not an ally in WWII. That is awesome!!

    • Vicky,

      Ha ha! He really test my knowledge (or proves my lack thereof)! I am not sure that I can say he is lucky to have me as a mother- I have made so many mistakes and horrible choices. I can say that nobody would ever love him as much, and that for nobody else would I ‘fess up to so many shortcomings. So glad you are here 🙂

  2. Wow. Thank you so much for writing this. I feel exactly the same towards my son, now 11. Horrible choices and so many, many mistakes. I’m sure you are like me and those mistakes are so highlighted in your memory because you love him so much you just wanted everything to be perfect and you wish so badly you could go back and redo things or take back all the harsh words or scolding. I know I do. Somehow it helps to know I’m not alone in my frailty. I don’t think he is unlucky to have you I think it is exactly the way the universe intended it and you two hold incredible healing potential that when realized will have a ripple effect on the rest of the world. Good luck on your journey.

    • Elsa,

      Your words could not have come at a better time. I thank you for taking the time to share them. I have never thought of our relationship in this way, and you just made my soul rest a little easier.

      Thank you for being here.

  3. Thank you for this post. People rarely acknowledge fully the daily challenges of parenting a spirited child. Of course we share all the love in our heart with them, but we are also pushed to our limits– at times, daily. My little guy is just about to turn one. I’m proud of him, and happy with my parenting decisions & choices, but there are many moments I wish I could go back to & remind my sleep-deprived self that he isn’t meaning to try my patience, he doesn’t mean to hurt me, and that he needs me all the more when he is angry or confused or upset. If only people were more like you–more open to talking about the joys along with the trials, I think more women would come to motherhood with more realistic expectations and this whole experience wouldn’t come as such a shock. Thank you for sharing this letter to your son with all if us.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this. I am in tears right now. I often wonder how to do the best for my girls, especially my oldest. There is much to make up for with her… the yelling, the anger, the confusion when she was young. She is so strong, and I am thankful for this, that she has such a strong spirit of rebellion when things are not just. I found myself changing when i started listening to her. After I started changing, she did too. I still struggle with being fair with her… she has cried because I could not literally give her the moon! When I am frustrated with her now, I ask her to come to me, and I hug her, and I tell her I love her.

    You are an inspiration and help me keep trying.

  6. The best moms are the ones that admit mistakes and weaknesses. Thanks and congrats.