Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Birth Day Love

I think Owen spent at least forty-five minutes in the bath tub today. He wanted to wash a Power Ranger and then once he got in there, he just kept having a good time. He didn't need a bath so much as he just wanted to play in the water and I completely understand that and I have no problem with hanging out in the bathroom with him while he plays.
He likes to listen to the seashells in there and hear the ocean in them. He listened to that one above and then told me that it made him think he would like to go to the beach.
I think that's what he told me. Something about going to the beach.

Ah. That boy. I look at that picture of him and I see his mother and I see his father. A perfect blending of genes in a boy who is thinking about the beach and listening to the ocean in a shell.

May is at the beach. It is her birthday today. She called me and we talked. May and I hardly ever talk on the phone without both of us ending up in tears but in a good way. A sweet way. An I-love-you-so-much-it-makes-me-cry way.

Today was the same. I told her that in a way, she had been my Gibson. That second child who completes the lesson of love which children bring with them. The lesson that shows you how absolutely limitless the love you have in your heart for your children is. I told her that I had heard of people who loved their first child so much that they decided never to have another and that I thought those people were cheating themselves of the rest of the message. Not that I think that everyone should have two children. Or any children for that matter, but that for me, it was certainly her birth that taught me how foolish my fears had been for my entire pregnancy with her- the fears that I could never and would never love another child the way I loved Hank and would thus be cheating this second child.

The second she was born (on my bed in a very small trailer house right down the road here in Jefferson County, thirty-four years ago this morning at dawn), and delivered unto my arms, I knew how very foolish those fears had been.
I knew my heart's ability to love was boundless and what a lesson that is.

I've told this before but I will tell it again- that before I got pregnant with May, I kept seeing a light out of the corner of my eye. A little light that would come and then flash away before I could focus on it. Drove me a little crazy, it did, but I was pretty in touch with the cosmos in those days. I wasn't too worried. I sort of figured...

So today on the phone I thanked her for wanting to be here enough to show up as a light way before she showed up as a baby. I thanked her for loving me. And then I said, "Thank you most of all for letting me love you."

And we both cried. And I am crying now.

We do not love our children each in the same way. Any mother who says she does is either lying or a very different sort of mother than I am. How can I love my Jessie the same way I love my Hank? How can I love my Lily the same way I love my May? I cannot. They are not the same and my relationship with each of them is so very different, just as they are.

I love each of them in very special, unique ways but I love them all more than I ever knew I was capable of loving and May is my baby who taught me that.

I don't think anything has made me happier in a very long time than the fact that May and Jessie and I all got to be with Lily when she had Gibson nine weeks ago. It was fitting beyond measure. It was perfect. My second child was with her sister when she had her second child. It was a moment of purest ecstasy for all of us. I have put this picture up before but I am putting it up again.

We are a chain of genes and of spirit and of love, our hands upon each other's bodies, welcoming the newest perfection of the manifestation of the love we all hold for each other.

In some ways, May is me and I am her. Oh, we do not confuse ourselves for each other, but we know we are entangled by more than those strands of RNA and DNA. We are entangled by the strands of our love for each other which is the strongest thing on earth. Just as I am entangled with all of my children but today, it is May I am mostly talking about. The daughter who looks like me, sounds like me, walks like me.

The one who came to me in light and then in body.
She walks in light even as I speak and I love her more than I knew I could and I do believe that love like this is something which even the ages will not diminish. If I believe anything, it is that the love we make and take is something not only as real as our physical beings but more so, and as such, will remain part of the this universe for as long as it continues. And may even have existed before we came to know each other in this existence. I'm going out there on a limb with that one- not quite sure- but as every mother knows, when a child is born, it is almost impossible to remember a time when that child was not there. So...perhaps.

And that's what I'm thinking about this evening as the sun is lowering in the sky and the day's heat is simmering upon the ground and how thirty-four years ago tonight I had had a day of giving birth and taking my newborn to the doctor to have her pronounced perfect (and oh, how that resident hated the idea of a home-born baby!) and then came home to rest and then make a supper out of the garden and how tonight I will also cook potatoes out of my garden and how much I love that child.

Owen has gone home to be with his mama and his daddy and his baby brother whom I already love as much as I love Owen which seems impossible but there you have it.
It's true.

This is my life and the light and the love held within it and these are my babies and it is May's birthday and I am just so damn grateful for all of it and no, I have not, nor will I ever do everything perfectly but you know what? That's not even part of the deal.

I have loved. And May taught me how endless that well of love is.

And she has let me love her and still does and I wish her the happiest of birthdays and we shall gather together soon, this tribe of love of ours, and celebrate that.

Key Lime Pie will be involved.

That and love.



  1. You made me cry, but it was a very good cry.

    Happy birthday to your beautiful second baby. She is a wonder.

  2. What a lovely post. You gave your children really nice names.

  3. Many happy returns of the day to May, and long live your love.

  4. This profound beauty of a post shares the love, sets it up on the shelf for us to see, and in the process we see our own circles of love. I imagine them like the concentric circles in the water, rippling out, bigger and bigger, encircling all of us. You dropped the rock with your words. Now I am contemplating the love in my own life.

  5. How poetically you speak of your tribe of love. Happy birthday, shining May!

  6. Oh Mary. Happy birthday to your daughter, happy birth day to you, and yes: all of those babies have existed before they came here. I knew this beyond a shadow of a doubt as a child, I knew this the moment Jonah was put in my arms, and he has confirmed this. "Thanks for being my son, Bird," I've told him, "Thanks for being chosen to be born with us." "Mom, I was in heaven before and I wanted to be with you." It doesn't always work this way, but I do believe, fervently, that it will for all of us at some point. Maybe not in this life. But it will.

  7. Crying at the beauty of this. Everyone should experience such love. annon Jo

  8. Happiest of days to you and to your sweet May. And if Key Lime Pie is involved, I am on my way. For real.

  9. You made me cry too.

    (And I'm a tough old broad)

    Love wins.

  10. Happy Birthday to your beautiful May!

  11. Happy birthday to your sweet daughter. May her tears always flow from happiness and may her worries always be washed away with love.

    Your writing... It never ceases to amaze me how people separated by years and miles, people who have never looked into each other's eyes, people who have grown up under different skies can have such similar inner worlds. The universality of the human experience is striking. Your words speak my thoughts. The intense fear I felt while expecting my second baby was unbearable. How could I sentence this innocent child to a lifetime of being cheated out of love? I loved my first baby with the entire capacity of my being and I had no clue where I would find any ounce of additional love for a second baby. You have captured what I have lived in such perfect words. The unending enormity of love!

  12. What an elequent pouring out of love in those words that say it all right to the bone... love is all encompassing, different with every child, but easily as deep, and shows how elastic love can be if you let it.. Actually I never doubted for a moment that any child could be loved in such a deep way as the first, but I was lucky or maybe too young to have thoughts like this.. I went ahead and had five who are all grown and love each other with very little sibling rivalry, so I am glad for that.. but your words say it all, thank you yet again for sharing your thoughts and your pictures of what love is!! Hope that May had a super birthday too..janzi

  13. I think this is one of the most beautiful posts ever written. I really can't find many more words to describe how it made me feel. Happy B-day to the second child who grew in your womb. Two girls born in May!

  14. Happy Birthday to your May.
    Lovely writing, such sweetness and truth. Almost makes me want to have babies ;-)

  15. I agree - we love our children differently because they are different - it would be so wrong if it were otherwise unless that love was barely superficial.

    I can not say that I allow myself the depth of emotion that you do. I hope my love is just as big even if I dare not express it - I know and my children know that I love them without hope of ever doing otherwise and I think that maybe, with all the mistakes I've made otherwise - it is the one thing that I've done right.

  16. liv- She IS a wonder.

    Dayna- I believe in the old names.

    messymimi- 'Til the universe folds in on itself.

    Denise- What a beautiful comment! Thank-you.

    lulumarie- It's all a damn miracle to me.

    Sara- Nothing like having a baby to reveal the truly profound and the profoundly truthful, is there?

    Anonymous Jo- I don't see how everyone can't love their babies to this degree.

    gradydoctor- Well, I make two. One for May and one for everyone else. So, there will be plenty.

    Akannie- I think love is the fuel for it all. I do.

    Elizabeth- She'll read that when she gets back. Thanks, honey.

    White Coat Dreamer- Exactly! Weren't we silly? But we had no idea until that second baby came. And boy, what a relief!

    Janzi- Oh, I was young too. Had my first two kids by the age of 23. I've always been a fearful overthinker.

    Michele R- Gosh. Well. Thanks, honey.

    Bethany- You have all sorts of babies. Just not the human ones. And that is okay and just fine.

    Jeannie- Well, I'm a very dramatic person in all aspects of life. Just ask my kids. They'll tell you.

  17. This was beautiful from beginning to end. Sylvie taught me the same thing, that I am capable of endless love. Beautiful.

  18. I love old names too. My kids are named Seth, Claire, Grace and Audrey. Audrey is four and most people think that I am saying "Aubrey" which I guess is more fashionable these days but Audrey seemed sturdy and beautiful at the same time. And that's my girl.

  19. you have me in tears. i know this child of yours is special. as each of your children are in their own ways. you reminded me that when i first learned that i was pregnant with my daughter, i cried from sorrow over the certainty that i could never love a second child as much as i already loved my son. then my daughter arrived and i saw how infinite our love is. she is the one who taught me the same lesson your May girl taught you. and she holds a place in my heart, it sounds like, very similar to to place your May holds in yours. happy birthday, beautiful May. And Mary too.

  20. It all sounds good and love is what life is about I think.


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