Sixteen years ago, under the gaudy, fluorescent lights of an operating room in Boulder, CO I was born again. Ushered in by the prodding and poking of two implement-wielding physicians. The urgent rush of blood and fluid accompanied my coming forth into the blinding world.
My greatest emergence conjoined with the birth of my oldest, he arrived on the scene, ripping the bandaid off my comfortable, presumed existence with breathtaking force. One could never claim him inauthentic, for his undeviating character presented with the first kick, the first flip, the first episode of heartburn. The pregnancy, labor and delivery consistent with how he lives his days.
Brooks is my greatest test, my foremost lesson. The worst, most regrettable behavior directed at his slight form. Persistent, his obstinacy ground me down to the basest of action. Tendencies developed from desperation and martyrdom flew as rage, shattering pride into infinite shards of humiliation – my voice raspy from the screaming, spirit broken from the shame.
This child, honestly, not what I asked for, not what I fantasized acquiring from this parenting dream. We all say we are content with a healthy baby, of course that was also true for me, but I had ideas. Longing for the child to reflect me, holding my assumed best interests, I requested compliant, amenable, hushed, docile. Brooks was supposed to be my champion, my image bearer, my source of applause.
Thomas Merton states:
The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
The journey toward love is long and windy, with detours and slow returns. Love often appears contrary to all we’ve envisioned.
I was entrusted with the task of raising and loving the child I needed rather than the child I thought I wanted. The chopping block held preconceived motivations, unspoken fears, romantic fantasies. No longer was I writing my own narrative.
My greatest work whittled to learning my love’s expression in this young, precious, formed life. This new story forced me to relinquish entitlement through daily surrender, through trust, through the dissolution of the dream.
My other greatest work has been to love myself.
These tremendous failures of mine are met with grace, from the generosity of a three-year-old (“It’s otay, mommy”) to the love I receive from God; from the forgiveness bestowed by a friend to the understanding and acceptance conveyed by my husband. All good, all beautiful, all powerful.
The task I hold to my dying day is to live loved. In living loved we love better, freer, fewer strings, more abundance, grace overwhelming. Championing others by relinquishing competition, jealousy, insecurity and fear unites us, unites us in this ever-important work of mercy.
Validation and worth will clamor at the gates, for I am human, imperfect. Loving our people in their becoming and potential, outside of our own assumed need is life-giving, holy. My children have each been entrusted to bring light into the corners of their worlds. My privilege, my task is to walk alongside, demonstrating, encouraging, admonishing, speaking only when necessary. Requiring them to live for my happiness hobbles them, impeding their ability to move forward into their own calling and future.
My joy cannot be hinged upon someone else meeting my expectations. Salvation comes from walking the well-worn path of self-discovery blended with hefty doses of surrender and trust.
In releasing another, I discover myself.
Thank you Brooks for your relentless tenacity, perseverance, and generous forgiveness. Thank you for walking this road with me, the journey of birth and new life, sojourning this bright new world in tandem. I love you.
Happy birthday my precious boy.