Today is my little boy Gabriel’s birthday. He turns 11.
Gabriel was born at 3:40 on a Tuesday afternoon. Not only was it the most remarkable day of my life it was also the most goo filled. Until you are actually there in the room, it is remarkable how much is inside a pregnant woman other than the actual baby. I know that women can put on over 40 pounds in a pregnancy but it seemed that approximately 4000 metric tons of various liquids, organs, entrails and other stuff came out of his little mother.
I’m surprised that the doctor was even able to get Gabriel out of that mess. It was like rescuing a pair of sunglasses suddenly dropped from a trawler into the rolling ocean.
My memories are a little vague of the birth because I was on drugs at the time. I went ahead and had a “safety” epidermal myself at 2 PM on that Tuesday since Gabriel’s mother did not want it. Silly girl with her “natural” childbirth. I had “Yellow Submarine” playing in my head.
One thing I do remember is the doctor asking me if I wanted to cut the cord. And I recall thinking “Bastard, do your GD job!! If we need any witty insights, that’s what I’m good for.” Instead, I just mumbled “Ahhh, you go ahead.” He did. And we got the Tuesday door prize of a cleaned up baby boy,Gabriel. And all I did was have sex. Something I often wanted to do anyway. Sometimes without his mother.
For any of you without children or a love of children or without a soul, you may want to stop reading. Being a parent is fascinating IF you’re a parent. However if you’re not, it can be like discussing the technology of electronic microscopes with a football fan.
I don’t mean to wax philosophic but Gabriel has given me every beauty of the universe.
I remember thinking about John Lennon when Gabriel was on the way. When John Lennon’s son, Sean was born in 1975, John gave up recording music, touring, interviews everything. All he did was concentrate on loving and growing with his new son, Sean.
It hit me at the time that if one of the worlds most famous people was delighted to give up everything that almost everyone else around him strives for, money, fame, admiration, drugs, sex…everything and did it without regret, just for the simple company of a newborn child then I was damn sure going to relish the experience myself.
Of course, John Lennon was murdered just 5 years after Sean’s birth. But in the weeks before his death, Lennon spoke of how being this kind of moment to moment, active, interested and loving parent was the most important time of HIS own life. That just stuck with me, the Ed Sullivan appearances, the filled stadiums and the luxuries did not mean as much as rolling on the floor, giving a bottle and jogging through a field with his boy, Sean.
I’m sitting here looking at old photos of my own child, Gabriel. I love him so much it literally makes my heart swell. Has it really been 11 years? It feels like 10 minutes. I feel like this morning has gone on forever and yet Gabriel’s life feels like 10 compressed minutes of exquisite joy.
As much as I love Gabriel. I try to love all children equally.
I get quoted sometimes for something that is so true to me that I find it almost impossible to say out loud. Because this is written, I can “say” it to you now…
The measure of a person isn’t how much we love our children. It’s how much we love other other peoples children.
Think about it…
Sure, everyone loves their kids. Everyone wants to see their biological destiny go forward but truly loving ALL children as your own is a trick. Lets face the truth, many kids are ugly, smelly, dumb, misbehaved, selfish, lacking in humor and insight just like most adults.
Still, the trick is to learn to genuinely love them all. And Gabriel has taught me that trick. It has taken years and years of constant love, adoration, wellness, sickness, worry and patience with Gabriel, both give and take. But I now “love” people that I could not have spent 2 minutes with 11 years ago. Gabriel has made me a better person, not the other way around.
As Gabriel has grown up so have I. I wasn’t a very good husband, I’m not always a great father but I do love all children as much as I love Gabriel. And I’ve structured my life in a way that I work, day to day, to help children that are not my own.
Without the time with Gabriel, I never would have felt this love, never have wanted to dedicate my life, my businesses and my soul to children in need.
Some parents look back at raising their children are feel that the children “owe” them something. Gabriel owes me nothing and never will. I owe Gabriel in ways that I can never re-pay. Every day, Gabriel makes me feel a consistent love and admiration that I have never gotten from a woman, teacher, member of the clergy or employer.
Sometimes I feel that I can hardly remember my life before Gabriel. As if everything before having a child was simply a preparation for the experience of growing with a child.
I didn’t ask Gabriel what he wants for his birthday. Because I know that he wants nothing. It doesn’t even occur to Gabriel to ask for birthday gifts. It’s not in his makeup. Gabriel has everything he needs already. A mother and father that love him. Two safe homes, food, water and a place to learn. Gabriel has friends, activities, exercise and two doggies.
I’m happy to spend the rest of my life seeing that other children grow to have what Gabriel has today. And not because I’m such a great guy but because Gabriel taught me that this is what all children, all people deserve.
Gabriel, in lieu of any trinket, please accept this letter of love for your birthday.
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