Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dear Jackson

Dear Jackson,

Today you turn 5 years old. I don't know how that's possible. I can still remember so vividly the weight of you in my arms for the first time, the intoxicating sweet smell that followed you around, and the softness of your fuzzy head as you nestled into my shoulder. You loved to be carried on my chest with your tiny legs tucked under your body like a little frog. You really weren't much of a crier, but when you did cry your face turned beet red and, buddy, you wailed. How is it possible that all of that was five years ago? When did you turn from a helpless infant into this charming boy?

Jackson, there's so much I will tell you someday. I want to tell you about the time I took you for your 9-month well-baby checkup and they told me that your liver was enlarged. The doctor guessed it was probably harmless but wanted to order an ultrasound to rule out cancer. CANCER. I heard that word echo in my head for the next 4 days as I wavered between begging God to take care of you and fury that He would bless me with this precious person only to take you away from me. I have never been so scared in all my life, and I've never cried that many tears. I can remember feeling your brother kicking around inside me (I was pregnant with Ei at the time) and feeling so torn because I wanted to give you a piece of my own liver but knew that I couldn't with Baby Ei inside me, and it was too early to deliver him. I don't think I slept at all for 3 nights. When they told me the ultrasound looked fine and that you were okay, I couldn't stop kissing you and holding you close to me. You squirmed away and wanted me to put you down, but I needed to hold on to you.

Jackson, someday I want you to know how I worry about you. I watch you suck in your cheeks when you're nervous, and I want to pull you close to me and make the world go away. I want to protect you from all that makes you scared and sad and embarrassed, but I also want to teach you how to believe in yourself and talk yourself through the anxiety. I want to push you hard to be the best you can be, but I also want you to know that the best you can be doesn't have to be perfect. I want you to know how proud I am of you, but I don't want you to think I'm proud of you only because of what you accomplish. You're a complex person, but I get you because you're my mini-me. I understand, but I don't have a clue what to do about it. And I worry all the time that I'm not getting it right.

Jackson, I don't even have the words to describe how much I love you. When I asked God for a baby, I hadn't thought much about what it would be like to have a child. I knew I wanted little doll clothes and strollers and tiny shoes (oh, the shoes!), but I didn't think ahead to what it would be like when my baby turned five. I had no idea that I would still sneak into your room at night to watch you sleep. I didn't know that I would still find the smell of your hair intoxicating. I couldn't have guessed that I would still struggle with my own need to hold you close and your need to wiggle free. You changed my life, little man. You love to remind me that I wasn't even a mom until you came along, and you have no idea how true that is. It's not just a title. Before you were even born, I fell in love with you, and my life started changing. I didn't know I could love like this. And, Jackson, it wasn't just me! You changed our whole family. I have never loved your Daddy as much as I did the day he tried to change your diaper for the first time. It took him a good 15 minutes just to get the old one off (meanwhile a very patient nurse was standing by waiting to take your vitals, and, bless her heart, she didn't laugh even once). Since you came along, I've fallen in love with Daddy's playful, patient, tender side. And our extended family? Never have we been so close. You wouldn't believe the welcome you received. My hospital room was packed to the brim with balloons, gifts, food, and so many people who just couldn't wait to squeeze you. For days we had a steady stream of visitors at our door. No one could get enough of you. Even after the newness of you wore off, we found new reasons to get together. Everyone just wanted to be near you. That hasn't changed. Five years later, we still have a steady stream of visitors at our door. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends--everyone wants to be a part of your life and watch you grow into this fantastic young man. You are a well-loved person, Jackson Reed...but no one loves you like your Mama loves you.

Happy birthday, precious Jackson. I hope all your birthday wishes come true. And I hope someday you have a child of your own so you can love someone this richly.

Yours forever,


1 comment:

Mom of Three said...

This is quite possibly the sweetest mother-to-son letter ever. You brought tears to my eyes with how much love you have for that little boy. They grow soooo fast. I hope you have many more happy years with your Jackson. And with a mom like you... he's going to turn out all right.