My first child is turning 9 on Tuesday. His head a mop of beautiful curls, his sparkling blue eyes, his quick wit and expansive knowledge. Asher made me a mother and though he is my most sensitive of children, he was my first and he is my sincere love.
Yesterday, I took six kids to Zap Zone and pizza to celebrate the turning of one year into another. He picked his closest friends, and they ran between arcade games, amassing stacks of paper tickets to trade in for plastic junk. We raced through a neon-lit maze with our laser guns and lighted vests, pointing and shooting and laughing.
We ate his favorite pizza, my picky eater, and pristine white cupcakes – his with just a touch of frosting, as he likes it – and sang happy birthday as he beamed a huge smile.
I always wanted to be a mother. In my 20s, that was the one thing that seemed to elude me as I built a career, dated a lot and moved from Detroit to New York to Washington, D.C., and back home again. I married for the first time, which, despite its fraught and fright, gave me the three most remarkable and lovely children in the entire world.
Asher was born the day after my due date, March 15, 2002. He came into this world and didn’t scream and cry like most babies. He merely peered around the room, wondering about this new place, this new life.
And then my little peanut slept on my chest on a cold still-winter Friday as I realized that I would be forever changed.
It’s understandable that Jewish tradition gives the birthright to the first-born because it’s with the first-born that we make the most mistakes. But what do parents know when they’re new at it? Deciphering cries, trying to diagnose discomfort, trying so hard just to love this little being enough to satisfy him.
I have always been an earnest mother – Asher never ate a jar of baby food and he breastfed for a long time. We literally hugged trees when he was old enough to stand and every summer we picked berries and later in the year, apples, in an orchard where sunlight and fresh air wouldn’t be obscured by buildings or fog.
Motherhood is a remarkable journey, one that starts and never ends. Everything I do now is directed by its impact on my kids. When they are older and grown and have left the nest, Dan and I say we’ll move out west and settle by the sea. But not if it means being too far and uncompromisingly difficult to get to my children.
Asher, happy happy birthday baby boy. You are growing and doing and imagining great things and I am so so lucky to be your mother. You made me who I am and every day you keep on doing it. I am a lucky, lucky woman.