To My Dearest Son,
As I look back upon life as your mother, I would like to believe that I have the past 13 years preserved in my memory; that I have every moment jotted down in my mind, and that I can recall it in a heartbeat. But the truth is, there is so much about our life together that I have simply forgotten. I have forgotten how many sleepless nights I had and how many diapers I changed. I have forgotten how many cuts and scrapes I bandaged up and how many times you fell off your bike. I have forgotten how many spelling tests we prepared for and how many practices I drove you to. But, there is so much that I do remember. I remember the day you were born. I remember the moment I held you in the delivery room and smelled your newborn scent. I remember sleeping with you lying on top of my chest. I remember holding your little hand in mine as you learned to walk. I remember your first haircut, the day you learned to swim and your first soccer goal. I even remember how many broken bones you have had: one; how many ER visits you have made: four; how many jelly fish stings you’ve endured: one; how many nights you have spent at sleep away camp: thirteen.
You see, it seems as if much of life is like that—there are things we remember and there are things that we simply forget. And so, I have tried to experience life’s joys deeply and meaningfully—to truly feel them and hear them, to smell them and live them, in that moment, as they happen. As your mother, I would like to think that I have taught you many things: how to tie your shoes, how to express your love, how to be a good friend. But I am realizing that you have probably taught me more than I have taught you.
When you were 5, you marched home from school and declared that you wanted to play the violin. Not only did I not take you seriously, I actually ignored your request for a few days hoping you would forget. But your persistence taught me not to give up on the things that we want. Soon after, we bought you your first micro-sized violin.
When you were 9, you walked the cobbled streets of a mystical town in Israel and asked to buy a Shofar. In buying this magical instrument, you taught me about compassion, kindness and spirituality. I learned to never hinder a child’s desire to try something new. I learned that a young child’s heart and mind is so pure and so kind that it can carry the prayers of hundreds. I have watched you blow that shofar many times. Sometimes I sit back and glow with pride. Sometimes I scramble to record you with my camera. But other times, I just watch as you close your eyes, take a deep breath, and transcend into a state of total tranquility. And it is in those moments that I am brought to tears by how open your heart is to receive. I am in awe of how available you are to carry the prayers of friends, family and complete strangers. And I am inspired by the magnitude of your generosity.
I have also learned the difference between parenting a son versus a daughter. When I would ask your sister to brush her hair, she would spend hours combing and braiding until it was perfect. But I now know that when a boy runs his hands through his hair as he walks to the car, that constitutes “brushing his hair.” I have also learned not to call you to come inside when you are perfecting your layup, even if it’s dark and even if it’s cold outside. I have also gotten used to the soccer ball that seems to follow you as you walk from room to room. And I am no longer startled by the sound of a ball bouncing off the other side of my bedroom wall. In fact, I expect it as my Sunday morning wake up call.
I want you to know that your kindness and integrity are evident. Your desire to pursue your passions is unmistakable. And your commitment to your values and beliefs means that you will not bend with the wind; you will not follow others; you will not give up on your ideals just to be accepted. This strength that you possess is inspirational. But you should know that these are not easy characteristics to have. It means that you may get excluded, and you may be left out. But it also means that you value what is right. It means that you know it is not worth giving up on your ideals for the sake of others. And it means that in the end, you will be a stronger and richer person for it. You have taught me to not allow the judgments of others to persuade me. And I am indebted to you for your wisdom.
My prayer for you today is that you continue to teach and to inspire. Not just me, but those around you. Thank you for choosing me to be your mother, and thank you for being my teacher.