This is my boy. My first born child. The oldest son. You have to know him to truly appreciate this story, but I'll share it here anyway. Sam often complains that we, his father and I, do not know what it's like to be the oldest --for I am a middle child and John is the youngest. Sam thinks his place in the family is the hardest, and I'm inclined to agree.
After all, I know first hand all the mistakes we've made and all the ways he's been the guinea pig. And all I can say in our defense is . . . nothing. I mean, we were pretty young when he came along and we've had to grow up quite a bit along the way. In so many ways, Laney and Benjamin are growing up with a different Mom than Sam did. He was there for my first steps, the unsure, wobbly baby steps of a new, young mother.
Thing about it is, I don't believe Sam truly feels slighted. When he says stuff like that, I think it's more about sibling rivalry -- although I wish there were another name for it. He doesn't exactly rival his brother and sister. In fact, he really loves them. It's more a numbers game than anything else; three of them and one of me, just doesn't equal man to man coverage. But beyond that, it's about the need, the one we all have, to feel most important, most loved, and most special by someone. And I guess when you're a kid, that someone is Mom and Dad.
So today, he was playing online, just after he'd blown out the number nine candle I had to hold in place on his too small cupcake. (Me trying to create my own moment with just the two of us -- think Gilbert Grape and "shimmering armor.") I walked over to him, without really planning out what I would say, and told him, "I know you think it's hard being the oldest, but I'm glad you were my first baby."
"Why?" he asked me.
"Well," I told him, biding my time, searching for the right answer. "You'll always have a special place in my heart because of that," and then it came to me, "You made me a Mom," I said, feeling, as my mouth spoke, the overflow of my heart.
And my genius boy, now nine years old --too old for the Happy Birthday song, still young enough to hold my hand walking through the mall-- turned away from his computer screen, searched my eyes for a moment, and smiled.