The person who changed my life, as much as and maybe more than my daughter who died, is my son. My first-born. On the day my son was born, my most life-altering event (next to my own birth) happened: I became a mother.
That I became a mother at all is a wonder. Motherhood was not on my to-do list until it was almost too late for it to happen. I was too busy trying new things, trying to find myself, be an artist, become a teacher…. I wanted to travel the world. But when I birthed my son, my world was immediately and utterly funneled into his eyes and the sweet space directly around him.
He doesn’t like when I write about him. So, mostly, I don’t. But I think I can tell you about how terrified I was, at the beginning, to bathe him or cut his nails. I still remember how scary it felt the first time I strapped my son into his car seat and drove to the supermarket. How I wrapped wool blankets around him as he slept, until the hair on his head matted down in sweat. How I kept checking to make sure he was still breathing.
My beautiful amazing boy grew to be bold and strong. Fearless. A completely different creature from his mother. When he finally left home, I stayed up late nights waiting for the familiar chirping sounds of him communicating on Instant Messenger. From faraway deserts riddled with improvised explosive devices, I messaged him back, “Watch out for the giant spiders out there” and “Eat lots of protein.”
“You’re a wimp,” he always says, eyeing the dog squirming in my arms. And I’m sure he’s really saying that to me, I’m a wimp. Yet I know being a mother is the bravest thing I’ve ever done.
It’s his birthday today. And it’s the anniversary of the day I came to know what it means to love someone more than myself.
Early on I showed my son a beach and he led me to the ocean. Ever since, he’s been traveling the world, trying new things, phoning home from distant shores and making me speechless in awe. Making me proud.
Who changed your life? What was your most life-altering event?