Our firstborn Liam turned seven years old this week. As my husband and I wrapped his gifts the night before, we recalled that night seven years ago... the night we left our apartment on the Upper East Side in New York City. I was clutching my pillow, he was clutching my hand. We were both petrified. We were about to become parents. We weren't ready. We didn't know what to do. We got into a cab and got out at Lenox Hill Hospital, knowing we would leave a few days later with a baby. Our baby.
As it turns out, our baby wasn't all that eager to meet us. He didn't want to come out. He went into distress. The nurses and doctors went into distress. I was distressed! Before I knew what hit me, I was swept out of the lovely labor and delivery suite and into the blinding lights of an operating room for an emergency C-section. In mere moments, I was handed a baby boy. A big baby boy. Liam weighed 9 pounds, 1 ounce and I swear he smiled up at me as I looked down, wondering what to do this brand new, rosy bundle of joy.
Seven years later, I still find myself wondering what to do. And he still smiles up at me. As I think about the past seven years, I realize that we've learned a lot -- as parents and as people. When Liam was born, my husband Des had two wishes for him:
- That he be Catholic
- That he be a Yankee Fan
These wishes have come true. Our little guy goes to church every Sunday and like his Dad, thinks of Yankee Stadium as a cathedral in its own right. His seventh birthday gave me pause to think about my wishes for our little boy. For our firstborn... and, in fact for the four that followed him as well...
- I want them to be happy, well-adjusted, confident. To accept who they are. To leverage their strengths and acknowledge their weakness. To smile. A lot. From the inside out.
- I want them to be humble and helpful. To be grateful for what they have and to help those who have not.
- I want them to do all the things those cheesy posters say -- to laugh loud and laugh often, to dance with abandon, to love with all their hearts.
- I want them to be honest, with me and with others. I want them to treat others with respect and kindness, do the right thing, set a good example.
I think one of the hardest parts of being a parent is realizing that in having these wishes for our children -- these lofty ambitions and big dreams -- we need to set the right example ourselves. And it's not always easy. In fact, when faced with sleep deprivation, cranky toddlers, stressful jobs and everything else that life throws your way, it can be really hard. But, when those little faces smile up at you, it is so worth it. And really, they have no clue you don't know what you're doing. They believe in you... and they have from that very first moment they gazed into your eyes. Personally, I’m not quite sure why but, I’m going to go with it. All in all, our little Liam has given us an amazing seven years and a lot to look forward to in the years to come. Happy Birthday to my sweet sweet seven year old!