I’m sorry that I don’t write you a monthly letter like Dooce, but I’m afraid that those would become painfully boring and mostly about me because, let’s face it, by nine, what you do each month isn’t much different. I, on the other hand, am endlessly entertaining (to myself). Also, it would require me to do math and math is hard.
I hear a lot of parents talk about how their kid changed their lives, and it’s not that I don’t understand what they mean, but you, my son, you really did change my life. The moment I grabbed that pregnancy test, recently bathed in my own urine, and said, “that can’t be a motherfucking line,” (forgive my language; you always do) because trust me when I say I was TAKING PRECAUTIONS, my life was forever changed.
I went from a carefree unmarried twenty-year old whose main concern was where to find her next twenty bucks for a tank of gas to someone who had to figure out what to do next. So, I scrapped my life’s plans, ditched the whole “Imma be a DOCTOR” idea, waddled back home to my parents, enrolled in nursing school, and then three weeks after I turned twenty-one, I pushed your gigantic head out of my vagina.
Yeah, I’d say that’s a little different than having to give up date night.
But there you were. All 7 pounds 13 ounces of you, with a mane of black hair so shocking that I thought someone had put a wig on you. What amazed me is that everyone was so astounded that I loved you. Over and over I heard, “wow, you really DO love that baby.”
Apparently, I have one hell of a poker face. Also: of COURSE I fucking love you.
This year, though, was the year I was dreading. It was the year I’d been dreading for years, and when I saw it barreling down upon us, my heart shattered.
This was the year you realized you were different than the rest of the world.
Our uniqueness can be a gift, but sometimes, in order to blend in with the rest of the world, we have to put those aside and learn things that come so easily to other people. This year you are trying so hard to understand feelings. Where your brother can look at someone and easily detect what mood they are in, to you, it’s as complex as the Pythagorean theorem.
Does that face mean anger? Sadness? Happiness? It’s a puzzle to you, but for the first time, you realized that just because you can’t understand it, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. It breaks my heart to see you struggle with this, but as you told me yourself, you don’t want to spend your life hurting others. So we practice. Diligently, you practice, and day after day you tell me excitedly, “MOM! I think I’m FINALLY getting this emotion thing!”
My heart smiles, because it’s just such a Ben thing to say.
I am the one who named you. I don’t know if you know that, but I chose your name. Benjamin means “son of the right side” and I hope that, true to your name, you inherited all of the best parts of me. All of the right parts of me.
If the first nine years are any indication, I think we’re both doing okay.
Happy, Happy Number Niner, Benjamin Max,