beginnings, blessings, new beginnings, parenting

My Expanding Heart: 18 Years Later

My second son turns 18 on Friday, and while I was reminiscing about his birth and his first few days (as I always tend to do around their birthdays), I find myself thinking about the day before his birth. What happened on that day? It was a Thursday, like today, and I took my oldest, at the time my only, out to the nearby shopping center for an ice cream cone.

I actually remember, all these years later, the conflicting feelings that I was having that day. I adored this guy, this ray of sun who gobbled up all of my attention; who was the center of our world as an only child. I adored our time together, our trips to Gymboree in the afternoon for the mommy and me playdates, our ice cream adventures, our times in the toy store admiring the Thomas the Tank Engine toy train model they always displayed.

And everything was about to change.

Of course, I was so excited for those changes and so sure that he would love his baby. We couldn’t wait to meet the little guy (or girl).

But it was a big change that was coming. And I was losing that magically only-you time for at least the foreseeable future.

There was a wistfulness to the day. I sat with him, as the ice cream dripped down his arm, and thought – this is it, buddy. This is the end of one chapter. Let’s hope the next one is a great one!

It’s so interesting to me that I can still recall that day 18 years later; that I still remember the fear and worry as I hoped that I was ready for the upcoming chaos, ready for all of the changes, ready to balance the love for two children instead of just radiating all of it onto one.

Although children have welcomed siblings since the beginning of time, I worried about what this addition would do to my first guy. I wondered if my heart was big enough to love another as much as I loved the first.

Looking back all these years later, as my heart took in more children, I smile at my naïve-first-time-mom-self. But I don’t see her concerns as silly or frivolous. They were real, and the adjustment each time was definitely challenging.

If only the mom I am today could tell that younger mom not to worry. Juggling children is not always easy, but it’s certainly rewarding. It makes each kid better able to appreciate his place in the world, his need to share, his ability to love and his purpose as one of many.

And deep down I’m sure that I knew all of this intellectually on that cold February day. I made a silent commitment to my only son on that day in 2002 that I would always love him as much as I did that day.

A promise I have kept. Since the heart can expand as much as it needs to, offering love to each in his own way.

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