When I was younger, (read: single) I remember thinking that kids were cute only until about the age of 3. I used to wonder if after that point, their parents had to make a conscious effort to find their children as lovable; if it was more work to really concentrate on caring as deeply as they should. Alright, reading that sentence over makes me want to delete it. Because it’s ridiculous and sounds shallow. But, it’s true. I did wonder.
That was before I became a mother.
Before I knew what it was like to hold a little baby boy in my arms and see all sorts of dreams in those blue eyes looking back at me. Before I realized that the love of a parent is fierce and deep– comprised of a little fear, great intensity and extreme hope.
Those first three years came and went and I learned that the younger version of me- the person who had wondered about fully loving a child past toddler-hood- was downright foolish. Because as every day passed, I found that the love for a child doesn’t require intention. It doesn’t wane or slow. It just increases, even through disappointments and mother’s mistakes, sibling arguments and frustrations. It was so easy to laugh with him, easy to dream along with him. And he was teaching me all sorts of things about myself. I was learning to grow up right along with him. The days became years, and 5 went by, and then 7, then 10. And throughout each year, I found with clarity that the love for one’s children doesn’t take effort or concentration. It just is.
You love your child more, even though you didn’t think it possible. Even when he gets to a point where you look at him and don’t even see the baby he was, only the young man he is going to be. Even when he starts to think he knows more than you, and you don’t want him to know that he is (marginally) right. –When it comes to history and geography, anyway.
I didn’t think that it would be like this. That motherhood would be so scary and wonderful and difficult and easy all in one moment. I didn’t know. I’m glad I didn’t. Because the not knowing is good. The anticipation for what can be is healthy. And part of me can’t wait to see what kind of man this boy will become. The other part of me feels a sense of trepidation and wanting time to slow a little. But if the past is any indication of the future, I can say this with certainty: Somehow, though hard to comprehend, I will love him even more when that day comes.
Happy 11th Birthday, Joel Thomas.
Love you. A lot.