Eighteen years ago today, I was blessed with my son. I was beyond excited to have a boy first. While I would have loved having a girl too, I always wanted an older brother, and I wanted that for my children. God must have thought it a good idea too, because he blessed me with Jaime.
When you have your first child, you sterilize everything. I made people wash their hands before holding him. That is, if I even let people hold him! I couldn't wait for him to start walking! How cool would we be? Mom and son walking hand in hand. I couldn't wait for him to hold the bottle himself so I could hold him with both my arms and just snuggle with him. Then, one day, I realized I was pushing him to grow up. I stopped that right away. I can remember he and I were playing with my mom and his first word was 'more'. More playing. Little did I know this would turn out to be the best description of Jaime himself. More. There is never enough of anything...food, good times, friends, love. More, more, more.
When he was a toddler, he was such a ham. He was so adorable, like most children. I got pregnant with his first sister and he couldn't have been happier. He even told my doctor that "there's a baby in there" and pointed to my belly. He would call my belly 'his baby' and he would try and feed his binky to my extended belly button! After she was born, he would hold her and shout with delight 'I got a baby!' or 'my baby!' And, then he tried to feed her a chip. Hey, he wanted to share from an early age!
As he started to grow, really grow my heart began to ache. It would ache at the boy he was growing into. One year, about five years ago, we went out to celebrate his birthday. And, he grabbed my hand as we were walking (this is nothing out of the ordinary for him, he is such a loving boy) and for the first time, his hand was bigger than mine. This brought tears to my eyes. I knew it was going to happen eventually, just not so soon.
This year, his senior year, we have had many 'come to Jesus' moments. Being a senior, working, working for and attaining his Eagle badge with the Boy Scouts, testing his independence, all of this led to those aforementioned moments. We've also had lots of laughter and of course, lots of love.
This morning, after I hugged him, while crying of course, I headed off to Mass to thank God for my son. And, while I was sitting there, instead of listening to the homily, I thought of Mary and Jesus. See, as I've said before, my heart is my greatest and my worst asset. It feels everything. Not only all the love, but every ounce of pain, bitterness, and hurt. So, having my son turn 18 is happy (and I am happy, truly I am). Having my son turn 18 and getting ready to go off to college is happy. And, not happy. While my heart swells with pride and gladness, it aches with the pain of him leaving. I cannot imagine not seeing him everyday (he's not away at college, he's on an extended weekend camp out! lol) and not hearing him laugh. But as my friends tell me, this is all part of life. I remember how scared Mary was when Jesus was missing for three days and the gladness she felt when she found Him. I wonder how Mary felt when Jesus went off on His ministry. Was she happy that her only child was gone and she could rest for a moment? Was she scared for Him, knowing He was traveling in all different places? How scared she must have been for Him when He was sentenced to death. How her heart must have ripped out when she held Him in her arms for the last time. No, no, I'm not comparing my son to Jesus at all. But I wonder how much of the pain that I feel at the growing of my children did Mary feel at the growing of her son? She 'kept all of these things in her heart'. Unfortunately, I was not gifted with that talent. My heart is worn on my sleeve. Heck, my heart is worn on my whole body. Actually, I'm probably just a heart with eyes.
Eighteen years ago, I gave my son life. And, every day since then, he has given life to me.
Please pray in thanksgiving for my son, James on his birthday today.
Until next time,