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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

blown away

 

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Twenty years ago today, I began my morning by giving birth.

Michael is my youngest. Unlike his older brother whose birth (28 months earlier) went on throughout an entire day and included being sent home from the hospital to wait—Michael arrived so quickly on January 20th that I didn’t have time for my epidural.

And this little distinction might possibly be the most fascinating part of mothering.

Don’t get me wrong, because I’m still learning. But it’s been my experience that discovering the uniqueness of each of our children is mind-blowing. And not just ‘accepting’ these differences, like we accept our fate

or accept the bad weather

or accept that we have to pay taxes

but staying utterly curious and interested to learn more about them.

Which is completely different from having a vision for who we want them to be.

Ah, it’s a humbling process and it never stops. Being careful not to “brand” our kids with our own unfulfilled dreams and allowing their inner selves to keep unfolding before us. It’s the drawing-outside-the-lines kind of parenting and it will challenge us to stretch our little egos until they feel like cracking. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

But if you’re a mother or father I don’t have to tell you this. You’re living it too. And maybe you’ll indulge me while I remember a few things on this special day.

I remember.. 

Patrick running up and climbing on my hospital bed and being excited and curious when I gave him a brightly wrapped present—was it a Spiderman figure? I can’t remember now—but I said,

“Look-it Patrick. This is from your new little brother, Michael.”

His brown eyes got big as he held the present and he said, “Really?!” before he tore into it. Truthfully, he wasn’t too interested in seeing this new brother who must have seemed quite boring just laying there swaddled in his cotton blanket.

But I considered it a great first impression. Who wouldn’t love a toy-carrying brother fresh outta heaven?

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I used to joke that for the first year of his life Michael thought that Patrick was a colorful, entertaining cartoon. Michael with his easy, calm demeanor, and big blue eyes- lit up at the sight of Patrick. He would sit in his baby stroller laughing and kicking his legs while he watched his brother in his play group or running around at his Gymboree class.

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Later when Michael started to talk, his Rs sounded like Ws and he could be hard to understand at times. Patrick quickly got into the habit of being a translator and often amazed us with his ability to understand EVERYTHING Michael said. It was inexplicable, like their own personal language.

Although I found his speech idiosyncrasies flat-out adorable.

I remember being in a Nordstrom’s bathroom with him when he was about preschool age and when we came out of the stall there was a line of chic looking women from the cosmetic department dressed in black, standing at the long mirror applying lipstick. It was utterly silent when Michael asked me in his husky little voice, “Mom. Why do girls pee outta their butts?”

It was the one time I was SO relieved he was hard to understand.

I remember Michael always called me, “Mom” and Patrick called me “Momma.” And he still does, even at age 22.

“Hey Momma, what’s sup?” is a common text I see.

I notice they seem opposites in their temperament but they laugh at the same things, and have similar tastes in music and food.

“Just get me what Michael gets” Patrick will say when it comes to ordering food today. And visa versa.

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One is more fiery and rebellious. The other steady, with a steely determination. When I’m with them now I notice they are both what I’d describe as socially astute when it comes to understanding people and dynamics.

Recently I found myself driving in the car with Michael when I was exasperated with his brother about one thing or another. I saw Michael smile and shake his head. “Mom, it’s so funny to listen to you guys go at it. He’s just like You… that’s why you guys butt heads.”

And even though privately I thought, “god I enjoy this kid.” I laughed and acted shocked.

But later it occurred to me how that comment was the closest that one brother will ever get to criticizing another. It seems outrageous to admit this, but I can’t remember ever hearing one brother saying a mean word to the other. They just never fought.

And though I’ve always attributed it to their age difference, now I see it differently. Now I understand it as a kind of loyalty. And I admire it.

They make me crazy with worry. They do dumb-guy things, keep sloppy rooms and they are a steady mirror of my deficiencies, reminding me how to let go.

To stop clinging.

And to stay off any preachy pedestal because their lives today remind me of my own rebellious, wild self that needed to go. To experience precious independence so that I could fall and get back up many times on my way to becoming ME

And not someone else’s version of ME. 

Our kids are a living, breathing reminder –everyday-- of the importance of choosing one’s own path in life.

And the importance of not giving a damn what others think when it comes to your kids.

Are you happy with your own path? Because we don’t get do-overs through our kids. This is their chance, their own journey and it’s a hard truth to face.  One that has me occasionally repeating a mother’s mantra for college age kids and above,

“Leslie.. get over yourself.”

Which I’ve learned, is almost a-perfect-kind-of-love.

 

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Today I am not a mother. I am a bottomless ocean of love with skin. And I am blown away by the gift of my children.

Happy Birthday Mike-Mike.

I don’t know why… but I feel so sentimental about your 20th birthday

 

 

 

24 comments:

Vickie @ Ranger 911 said...

You even have me teary eyed, Leslie. Happy Birthday to your son and congratulations to you and your hubby for raising two wonderful human beings! I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that we have to let them choose their own paths and not the ones we want them to take. I'm still learning and I've realized that sometimes my children are wiser than me. Letting go is not always easy, but watching them go their own way is pretty darn fascinating, don't you think?! I always enjoy reading your posts, Leslie. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful week!
Vickie

Calypso In The Country said...

I smiled while reading this because your love and admiration for your boys comes through so clearly in your writing. As you know I have two boys 2 years and 5 months apart. I wish I could say mine never fight though! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and those precious pictures! They were adorable little boys and have grown into such handsome young men! You must be so proud. What a gift it is to be a mom. Life is good.
xxoo Shelley

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

This is such a lovely post, Leslie...I loved hearing about your sons. Childhood sure goes by too quickly, doesn't it? I have always thought that being a good parent is seeing your child's interests and talents, and helping them reach THEIR goals. And it is such a satisfying feeling to see your children grow and become. I know you must be so proud of them...xo

Karen said...

Leslie,
What a lovely, touching post. As the mother of 2 sons, much of your observations parallel my own experience. The loyalty thing between brothers is one of my favorite things, as an only child I feel blessed to have sons that are best friends.
Happy birthday to your handsome son. Enjoy the time.
xo,
Karen

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

What a lovely post Leslie! Watching children grow into their own unique, wonderful selves is just the most amazing and wonderful experience that life has to offer!

Tami said...

What fine looking young men you have. Sounds like they are young men of integrity and honesty. A rare find these days. I have one son middle school age and while I miss his little boy days I am also eager and excited to watch him grow into the young man he is becoming. This kid stole my heart the day he was born. He is also my only. It is our job as parents to coach and encourage our children into this life and gently guide them into the fine young people that they are meant to become. Love this post. And happy birthday to your youngest.

Sarah said...

Another very thoughtful, impressive post, Leslie. I admire your way with words and your honesty in sharing your feelings. You have two very handsome sons, and those two young men have an incredible mom. '-)
Happy Birthday, Michael!

Dayle said...

Sweet, sweet post. Handsome boys, or men, I should say.

I completely understand the language thing, being an identical twin. Nobody could understand a word we said but we could understand each other perfectly and often tried to interpret for our parents.

Sheepskins fairylights said...

What a beautiful post. Your boys are gorgeous young men too Xx

DREAMS ON 34th STREET ~ French bread & family said...

Tearing here...
This is such a lovely post.
Your sons are intuitive, caring, and handsome! Loyalty and love between siblings is so comforting for a Mom.

A child's birthday is the sweetest day of reflection.
~Lynne
w/L

Fairhope Supply Co. said...

Totally understand your feelings. I have two boys, three years apart, and they are adorable. A few years younger than yours, but so grown up and insightful in ways I just can't imagine daughters being.

Happy Birthday to your big guy!

Art and Sand said...

So sweet!

I love that your sons are so close and friends. That is not always the case.

JP's first words upon arriving at the hospital to see is new sister were "my wish came true!". We had to remind him of those words often, but now today as adults they are great friends.

Are either of your sons writers like you?

Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours said...

Aw, Leslie, this is a really sweet post. Happy Birthday to Michael—and his family! It was a great day 20 years ago... and today. As I read your wonderful memories, I couldn't help but think of our grandsons. They're 5 and 2.5, and they are best friends! The older translates for the younger just as your boys did. So sweet!

Gypsy Heart said...

Beautiful post, Leslie, and an incredible tribute to both sons. I hope Michael has a very Happy Birthday!

I was definitely a "helicopter mom" when my kids were young. Took a LOT for me to begin letting go. :) It's something we have to do though. I've always felt they need to create their own dreams and live the life they imagine. Guess that's giving them wings, huh?

I've missed you ~ have been so sick lately. Actually, this is the 3rd week and I'm just beginning to feel a bit human. :) I did get my flu shot early on, however, I heard on the national news the other day that the vaccine this year is only 23% effective. Not sure why "they" made it available with these stats.

xo
Pat

karen@somewhatquirky said...

Wonderful words, Leslie. My son is 28, my daughter 27 (16 months apart) and they have been extremely close since she was born. I don't remember them fighting either. They are wonderful people. I feel everything you are saying. I'm pretty good at letting them live their own lives, maybe too good I think sometimes. But just this year - just when I thought I was in the clear - I'm going through a phase where I want desperately for things to go like "IIIII" (that's a BIG I) want them to go. Not for myself, but because I don't want them (her) to have the struggles I know she is going to have. I'm working on it...

Mary Ann Pickett said...

Sob...because Mike is no longer a teenager. I am so choked up. That was beautiful. I miss my boy.

Joanne Nauta-Koot said...

Lesley, what a celebration piece on being a parent. Am also soaking up the precious moments of being with my sons. No longer boys, but young caring, sensitve men. At times I stand back, and wonder "are these my children"? Only said, in happy amazement and gratefulness. During their childhood they were so opposite of each other. In every aspect. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. At times I felt (and complained) that I felt like a psycho mom. Because while dealing with one son, who was hanging by a toe in a tree, the other was demanding attention as to "why" he wasn't allowed to take apart his computer. They were ying and yang; black and white; to each other. Both equally intense, but in totally different ways. Children grown into adults. They are still total opposites; but have a strong unique bond with each other,one of respect, and love; no matter how different they are. In times of need; they are THERE for each other; no matter what. And that; is what sums it all up for me; as I observe (absorb) them and what they strive for in their lives. Our family motto was (and is) "We love each other, and help each other...no matter what". And they are carrying on with that in their hearts and actions. I too, celebrate the miracle gift of having children grow up into adults. Also feel joyfully blessed; along with you and other parents. Greetings " Joy" Joanne

Marilyn said...

Well, I'm blown away, too...by this wonderful love letter to your sons. As the mother of 2 boys (now 26 and 30)I related to everything you wrote. Including the fact that my youngest son was born much faster than my eldest!

You articulate so beautifully. This post touched my heart.

Marilyn (in Dallas)

Carla from The River said...

Leslie,
I am crying my eyes out!! As a mom of two boys, who are 2 years apart and the BEST OF FRIENDS, this post is just beautiful!!
My boys are growing so fast. And reading your blog as helped me grasp on to understanding other Mom's have had to let go too. And it is not easy.

Your boys are so handsome.
You are a great mom and I am blessed to have found your blog to help me prepare for the days ahead with my boys.
Carla


Privet and Holly said...

What a beautiful story
of love and the journey
through parenthood,
Leslie! My oldest was
born in 1995, too ~ a
great year for terrific
babies : ) Her birthday
is in March and I'm sure
I'll be up to my nose in
memories, too. Congrats
on raising two boys into
wonderful young men!

xo Suzanne

Cindy Hattersley said...

What beautiful boys. I am impressed that they will allow you to put pics of them on the blog. I did once and mine nearly killed me!! They are so lucky to have such a loving, insightful mother! They grow up so fast...my two are 31 and 34!!

Heather Lindstrom said...

Leslie dear, You are a gifted writer with a huge heart. Your devotion to your wonderful boys is inspiring. Turning twenty, and leaving teenage years behind, is a big deal. Now wonder you are feeling sweetly sentimental.
Loved this post!
xx, Heather

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Oh Gwen, that last line, "I'm a bottomless ocean....with skin." That is poetry. Oh yes, that is POETRY! I just loved watching your sons' photos as babies (ADORABLE!) and then to see them as men. I always wanted sons. I have no kids, but as a teacher, I just love seeing the development of my students. Beautiful men, wonderful sentiments, exquisite prose and poetry.

Thank you so much for coming to my blog post. It was a very tough decision to make to stop posting, but I am keeping my blog open and I am also visiting as many blogs as time will allow. I love this community.

Thank you also for coming to visit after having read my comment; it is another teacher. I am learning, as we all should keep doing, that a lack of confidence forces people to push themselves on others. I actually feel sorry for anyone who resorts to mistreating their peers in such a way. It is hard however, to go to work because I don't want to feel mistreated....but I do my best to keep being positive.

Oh how I wish you and your sons the best of times! BLESSINGS! Anita

ℳartina @ Northern Nesting said...

What a beautifully written post Leslie!! Your boys are SUPER HANDSOME!!
Happy Birthday to Michael!

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