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Birthday reflection

Tomorrow my only child will turn 20 years old.

Like Charlotte explained to Wilbur, she is my magnum opus. And today I fussed and yelled like I have not done in quite some time. I don’t regret it – it was all true and authentic. But the timing sucked. She’ll be gone all day with her friends on a trip to the beach.

More of my truth is that I have LOVED being her mother. I have savored the days of her babyhood, missing them now and recognizing them as sacred. I remember people asking me, when I returned to work after maternity leave, how new motherhood was for me. My response then was that I was experiencing more love than I deserved.

And even though my words this morning were strong, harsh and loud, I still love being her mom. Her life has been an answer to a prayer – probably several prayers. My life has found purpose and joy because of it.

Through the years I have listened differently to people who talk about their desires to become parents. I have heard voices filled with longing. I have heard what I would call the wrong reasons to have kids. But, I have also heard those who know for sure that they are not meant to be parents. What has been interesting about that is the response that comes from “well-meaning” friends. Why convince someone who clearly doesn’t want to have kids that they should reconsider and have them anyway?

There was a man I knew who was single and lived alone. He was a nice man – hard working. He didn’t have long conversations, usually, but when he did, he was engaging and affable. We only knew him at work. Many of us only know our co-workers at work. Yet somehow we must build in our minds the rest of who they are. I mean, we must make these assumptions based on our perceptions of who we see at work to fill in the parts that we don’t see because we act as though we know them and their capabilities so well. Anyway, one day when asked if he had any children, he said that he wouldn’t make a good father. I saw his face contort while listening to person after person try to persuade him that he was wrong. Finally I said, “I think [he] knows himself better than we do. Maybe we should just accept what he says.”

I am actually thankful for the ways that some people are introspective and willing to be honest. I try to honor that self-awareness whenever possible.

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