My First Born on his Birthday

Twenty four years ago tonight I gave birth to my first of two baby boys. After two days of pretty excruciating labor I was anxious and relieved to see my precious nine pound bundle. This little baby grew into a sweet, quiet boy who was so undemanding he often put himself to bed. He truly was my first real love.

When he was four I moved back home to nurse my wounds from a crippled and failed marriage. For months he slept in my bed as his baby brother snored in a nearby crib. He never asked questions, my good-natured boy. He just followed me around, held my hand, and gave me the strength to become myself again.

The years passed and my two sons played, squabbled, and competed with one another. As my oldest grew, the bullies began to ascend.  He often took it with a stoic attitude, not letting me know how much it hurt. He kept busy with sports and school, but the abuse continued. I tried everything I could as a mother. I signed him up for lessons. I talked to teachers and administrators. I let him know that he could fight back. Nothing changed until the summer he turned fourteen.

After a long vacation spent up with his dad, he called me one evening to tell me he wanted to stay up there when the school year began. I was so shocked I hung up on him. My heart was breaking. How could I fix this? What could I do short of driving up there and dragging him back home? He finally convinced me that this was his idea; he wanted a new start, so I let him go, but not without my own heartbreak. I would cry myself to sleep and wake up with tears. Did I fail as a mother? I felt like something was broken inside that would never quite heal.

He did end up finding a place for himself up there. He was happier. He found a group of friends that surrounded him with support instead of ridicule. After high school, he went on to serve a stint in the Navy. He finally discovered for himself what I knew all along, that he is a brave, smart, kind, and noble human being. It’s still difficult for me, though, to admit that he needed to leave his mother. I’m not sure if I ever really will.

So today I baked and sent an apple pie to my oldest son on his 24th birthday. He never really liked cake, so I learned how to make him pies. Even though he is all grown up with a fiancé and a new life out west, he is still my baby, my heart and my first true love.