Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Happy Birthday, Son!

I remember once asking my mother, "How does it feel to have a forty-year-old daughter, Ma?" I'm turning seventy this year and my mother passed nineteen years ago. My son is about to turn forty-nine, and I am asking myself the same question I asked my mother all those years ago. "I feel fine" was my mother's response then, and is also mine now.

Raising my son alone was difficult. I had a good support system to help me, but ultimately, full responsibility for his general welfare was mine alone. I still have some guilt about decisions I made during that time, because I feel a bit of shame or guilt associated with them. But, I keep reminding myself that I was a conscientious mother. I read parenting advice books, I took classes about parenting well, and I always sought advice when I needed it. I spent a lot of time in psychotherapy, and I had my son in therapy much of his young years as well. I didn't want to screw up. I was an unwed mother when being one was not acceptable. I wanted to prove to the world that I could do it right.

Well, I don't know if I did it right, and I certainly made mistakes. But, when I look at my handsome son now, all I see is success. I did it right. For me and for what our lives were while he was growing up. I succeeded in raising a relatively happy, successful, productive member of society. He is a professional architect, a homeowner, happily married to a wonderful woman, and together they bore a beautiful, funny and happy little boy. I couldn't be more proud of my son and who he has become.

We certainly are different people with different views of the world, but I am different from my parents too. I think that's what is supposed to happen. Children grow in their own way on their own terms into their own people. That's why little birdies leave the nest, right?

I spent my forty-nineth year worrying about turning fifty. I don't think my son is wasting his time worrying about that. Thank goodness. I look forward to singing the birthday song to him once again. This time, his son is aware enough to sing along and help his Dad blow out the candles. I am proud of myself and of the son I raised alone. I did a good job. The biggest favor I can do myself now is to let go of whatever guilt I still cling to and just enjoy the ride going forward. Happy Birthday, Son! I love you with all my heart.