Friday, March 9, 2007

Along for the Ride

You are going forward toward something great. I am on the way with you and therefore I love you. --Carl Sandburg, "I Love You"

Though Thanksgiving can get swallowed up into a pre-Christmas frenzy of shopping and partying, three other days during the calendar year are, for me, mini-Thanksgivings. My children's birthdays are occasions for remembering my first glimpses of their newborn faces and how each of them greeted the world in a style all their own. I relive the exhaustion and the ecstasy of that birth day, and I intentionally spend time breathing my thanks for the amazing life that began at that particular moment.

Life with our son has never been dull. He's funny and smart and his mind works in mysterious ways. One of our friends called him "a tender tough-guy." And he is. But more than that, he is an affectionate uncle whose antics make his nephew squeal with delight; a compassionate soul who held his "dog-brother" close as life ended; an attentive and patient grandson; and an irresistible son who lights up his mom's world by just passing through the room. From the moment I saw his furious little face in the delivery room and heard his not-so-little roar of outrage (he was probably hungry-- hunger, to this day, puts him in a really bad mood), I was captured. As the actress Helen Hayes put it, "That was the end of my heart. I never got it back."

I don't think many of us parents want our hearts back. We want to be along for the ride. Sometimes we forget who's supposed to be driving or holding the reins, a common parental amnesia, but the journey is nevertheless as exquisitely exhilarating as it is unsettling.

And on this day, my Thanksgiving in March, I am so grateful-- and humbled-- to be along for the ride. Happy birthday, favorite son!

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