I feel the tenderness and fragility of life right now. My son just turned 5. We had a beautiful celebration of his life. It is a gift to witness him grow and evolve into who he is.
About a week ago at bedtime, Birch said, “You know one of the reasons I love you mom?”
I said, “Tell me!”
He said, “Because you bought Star Wars cookie cutters so we can make Star Wars cookies for my birthday!”
So I said, “That’s so sweet Birch. Thank you. I want to share with you something about love. We do not love people for what they do for us, or presents they give us. We love people for who they are. Today, you were so helpful, you put the recycling where it belongs, you helped me cut the broccoli and grate the cheese. I felt so grateful that you did those things. But that’s not why I love you. I love you because you are Birch. And I bet you are really grateful that I got those Star Wars cookie cutters, but it’s not why you love me. You love me because I am mama!”
What IS unconditional love anyway?
“That’s true Mama, I would still love you if you didn’t make Star Wars cookies for my birthday. Thank you for getting me those Star Wars cookie cutters.”
Such a sweet opportunity to offer my son reflections on unconditional love as I understand it.
The night before his birthday party I visited with my dear friend, who is beginning to cross over. She has two children. She had the presence still to ask what I am up to this weekend. I told her we are having Birch’s 5th birthday tomorrow. This profound guilt washed over me. I get to keep celebrating my son’s landmarks and she is leaving so many of her children’s landmarks behind.
The capacity of the human heart to hold love, joy and grief all at once is beyond measure.
For Birch’s birthday, we got him a bicycle with training wheels. He looked at it first with wide eyes, a dropped jaw and a hint of terror. He has fallen off a couple of times and bravely gotten back on to try again after hugs and snuggles and a little discussion and learning about what went wrong that caused him to tip over before trying again.
I have seen him grow in his comfort and security in himself. I attribute that to who he is and to all the love he receives from such incredible people with whom he has surrounded himself.
I see in him the healing of generations. I honor my own awesomeness in how I show up for him and the world, and hold space for the pain I still hold inside of myself that keeps me small sometimes. I hold compassion for myself in the places where I feel afraid to let go and trust, the places I get stuck.
The joy of witnessing Birch inhabit himself and his will more and more everyday is met with a loss of innocence that comes with age. The desire to protect our children is so strong and with each passing day, we have less capacity to protect them.
The holding of love, life, joy, grief and death feels immense right now.