Today my 1st baby turns 18.
I can write about him because he chooses to avoid anything that has to do with my business.
So chances are he won’t see this.
AND, he unfriended me on Facebook to carry out his avoidance strategy a few months back.
So please don’t mention this post to him. He’s in high school and he is slightly embarrassed by me.
I get it.
Even though I’m not succumbing to his dream of “putting baby in a corner” when it comes to me and my outspokenness, I usually try to avoid talking about him.
But today, I just can’t honor his request because I am overcome with nostalgia and love and I feel the need to process through writing to y’all.
This child of mine has been my greatest teacher and also my biggest challenge.
When Alec was a little baby, he was happy if I was holding or feeding him. Period.
18 years ago, it wasn’t really a thing to “wear” your baby like it is today.
My sis just had a baby and she is actually in a Facebook group called Babywearing 102.
In 1998, I wore Alec in what looked like a front loading backpack, called a Baby Bjorn. I loved that contraption and discovered it because I couldn’t find time to make a sandwich.
He was happy if I was holding him and he was unhappy if I put him down.
So I didn’t put him down all that much.
I would learn with my other 2 children to adopt the mantra, “No one ever died from crying.” And as a result, they were both much more capable of soothing themselves as babies.
With Alec, I wasn’t ready for all that.
So I held him and he slept next to me most of the time.
I became an “Alec-expert” since we were literally in constant contact.
I often could predict his behavior just before it occurred. Like when the enthusiastic 1st time grandparents came to visit; I knew the constant “in his face” stimulation would quickly turn to tears for my baby.
He craved quiet and too much activity brought overwhelm and upset.
Less was more for him from the very beginning.
I began reading all sorts of baby and parenting books to help me understand and learn how to take care of my baby.
Later, I would know that Alec was given to me 1st to teach me some big life lessons.
His siblings have similar temperaments to mine. I believe I would be an entirely different type of Mama if Alec hadn’t been my trainer.
I remember reading an article when he was about 5 called something like “Being an extroverted mother with an introverted child”. That really hit home for me.
As it turns out all these years later, through understanding Alec, I have come to believe that I too share many introverted characteristics myself and often crave quiet as well.
Like Alec, less has become more for me. Like Alec, having a creative outlet in my life and connecting 1:1 with people rather than in large groups energizes me while the opposite depletes me.
Figuring out and honoring my oldest son’s natural strengths has helped me to redefine and focus on mine as well.
It is because of him, I believe, that motherhood has put me on the path that has ultimately allowed me to enjoy my life today more than ever before.
I have so much gratitude for this amazing and complex and simple young adult of mine for all the life lessons he has brought to me and our family.
And with all that being said, a few days ago, he completely exemplified my favorite quote,
“The way you do anything, is the way you do everything.”
We were discussing his birthday and I was begging him to allow me to throw a party to celebrate.
We walked down memory lane reminiscing about all of his different bday parties over the years: Halloween in February; The dinosaur egg hunt; Our Maccabia style scavenger hunt broken down into teams with names and assigned colors.
Each year’s theme would be accompanied, of course, with weeklong extended family celebrations.
He said to me, “That’s why I don’t want anything. You overdid it. You went overboard. You gave me too much birthday. Some people don’t want all that attention.”
It was a full circle moment. Our conversation reminded me of when he was a baby and I knew that my parents visit; with all their love, delight and enthusiasm, would result in his little baby tears due to the over stimulation.
He was telling us since before he even had verbal language that less attention is more for him.
And once again he taught me another lesson as his gift to me on HIS 18th bday.
Days after titling my upcoming book, “Am I screwing up my kids?”, he left me with this message:
Even though I may think I’m doing things so differently from my parents; my overcompensation with my own kids for what was missing from my childhood experience, such as, “not enough birthday”, will probably screw up my kids…
Just in a DIFFERENT way.
AND, after thinking about it, I still decided…
TO OWN MY ROLE AS THE MOM THAT WAS GUILTY OF TOO MUCH BIRTHDAY.
I threw my beautiful son a little homegrown burgers and cake 18th ‘surprise’ bday party last night at the house.
I’m probably only alive to speak of this right now due to a last minute good judgment call.
I did decide to cancel the clown, magician, and bounce house yesterday morning.
Happy 18th birthday to my Alec.