Posted on | February 5, 2015 | 1 Comment
It’s funny; the first moment I remember holding my son, I thought about all the important things he and I would do together… all the important things he’d see and do and learn. I thought about those milestones… the first tooth, the first steps, the first words… and it all seemed so very big. I thought I’d never find enough time or love or life to do all those big things with that tiny baby.
I was thinking back to that moment this morning when I woke up, a five year old leg strewn across my body, and a dear friend on my mind… one who is, as we speak, in the process of having her first child at a nearby hospital. I was thinking about those big and important lessons I was going to teach my son as I argued with him over how much breakfast he was allowed to eat and how long it would take him to go get in the bathtub. I thought about that intense love I felt for that tiny baby as I rolled my eyes and undertook the excruciating task of washing his hair. And as I thought about all those important things, I had to laugh a little at that younger me, that new mother me with the big dreams of a perfect life.
If I could sneak into that hospital room and sit beside her, watching her take in the bigness of her life now that there was a child, I think I know what I’d tell her. I’d lean in close, pass her a cup of something forbidden… maybe beer, maybe wine… and I’d tell her what I know now. I’d tell her what the Important things really are.
They aren’t the first tooth and the first step. It’s not the first smile or the first laugh that will change you. It’s not riding the bike or winning the game or learning to read. No, as wonderful as those moments are, they aren’t the ones that change you… they aren’t the moments when you stop and think “This is Important” not with a little “i,” but with a big, screaming “I” that makes tears well up and your voice catch in your throat.
The Important things are so very different… that first broken bone… the first broken heart. That moments when he comes home from school crying… the time when he tells you that someone picked on him… the day that he whispers everyone hates him…. the time he asks why his dad or mom doesn’t live with him. The Important things are the choices you make when he looks up at you and asks to try on your make up, asks why some people are different colors, asks what makes girls different from boys. And I know that yes, dammit, I’ve failed at some Important things, and as much as I try, I’ll fail at more. I’ve failed at being exactly where and who he needed me to be, failed at saying the right words or implanting the right ideas about respecting his body and others, respecting his life and others, respecting the world around him. I know that I’ve failed more times than I can count and that those failures will continue to bother me in that space in the back of my mind that we keep our moments we wish we could do-over.
But while I’ve failed at some of the Important moments, I’ve tried to make them up to him by loving each smile and laugh and as if it were my own. Because Important moments, Important things… they are temporary… scary, but temporary. And so much more Important than those temporary things is the over-arching importance of just… loving them. Bigger than me. Bigger than the moments I dreamed of in that not-so-long ago hospital room. Love? Love is bigger than everything. Important Love… well… if you can get that one thing right… that’s really the only Important thing that matters.