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It’s not the same as with our parents or partners. Being a parent is like no other love. My heart is walking around outside of my body, and I’ll never be the same.

Today he wakes later than his brother (like every morning), and, like every morning, without fail, he asks: “Is it a school day Mama?”

And like most mornings I get up the courage, grin and exclaim “Yes it is!” And I wait, breath baited, for this moment to give me my first daily evaluation of how I’m doing as a parent. On the days he meets that exclamation head on with delight, I exhale with relief. My heart walks safely. Today is one such day. Breakfast, potty, clothes, and a kiss for his baby brother as we drop him off in his classroom.

He is brilliant and sensitive. And over the last year, he has become funny. Not funny like me, or funny like his dad, but funny in a way that is completely himself. He has become funny in a way that is generous and giving. He has grown to become fully himself. My heart is now entirely out of my control. I’ll never get it back.

Tomorrow is his third birthday. And his presence in my life has made me better in unimaginable ways. His curly hair, his sparkling eyes, are a tangible reminder of those beloved people who no longer walk this earth but live on in his bones and his blood. And he is a reminder that I need to use my time here wisely. Because life only goes in one direction. And I am just a transient piece of my lineage.

And there’s something freeing and humbling about feeling like a footstep rather than a whole isolated journey.

And now, since he’s been here, I’ve written him (and his brother) into my whole history and my whole future. My heart has never been without him. It was searching for a home until he arrived.

He is our legacy: he pedals his yellow and blue bike and his curls peek out from under the straps. As he wobbles forward I see an army of people in stride alongside him, some of them I know, some of them are legend, but they are all family: prairie schoolteachers, indentured servants and bearded scholars. Ours. I see the confluence of East and West- a globe in his barely caramel skin, and if each side could meet him they’d marvel. How far we’ve all come for him to come to be.

He is all of our history, alive – he is our hearts mixed and moving.

Everything bad about me that I see is less, because of him. Everything good about me that was, since he arrived, is more. Each day of his life has refined me, by force, to become more, because of him. Thanks to him, I know my place in time is both small and large. How boring it would be for my heart to still be living in my chest. My heart will now live far beyond me. His birth is the gift of eternity.

“I want balloons, Mama!”

Three years? Balloons are the least I can do, don’t you think, for infinity?

Filed under: Family, Motherhood
25 Comments

25 Responses to Three Years With My Heart Outside My Body

  1. Nicole says:

    Such a beautiful post!! I got all choked up reading this. You're a great mama, and happy birthday to your little one! :)

  2. Kate says:

    That's really nice of you Nicole. Thank you.

  3. DC Celine says:

    hooray! for all of this post and what it means to you. hooray! hooray! and yes, balloons, please, mama!

    • Kate says:

      hooray for my friend who lives far away, who I've never met before, but who helps me get through, just by being!

  4. oh, just beautiful! happy, happy birthday. To him, and you!

  5. I love this line: And he is a reminder that I need to use my time here wisely. Because life only goes in one direction.

    My youngest is 3 next month so I totally get it. Happy birthday!

  6. Oh, happy three to him and you!

    Steph

  7. heather says:

    What Alex said. I was going to say I loved that line so much too. I loved a lot of lines, a lot, but that's my favorite. This is beautiful and I'm so glad you just wrote.

    xoxo

  8. asmanyasgiven says:

    This is stunning. So glad Heather tweeted the link, as I rarely get to read the links on Just Write these days. Really excellently written.

  9. Elaine says:

    What you said about feeling like a footstep, wow. You're right, it is "freeing" to feel that way. I really enjoyed reading this. Happy Birthday to him!

  10. Olivia says:

    “Written him into my whole history and my whole future.” It’s so very true.

    • Kate says:

      There's something about a kid that makes you feel like you were always a mother/father. My dad always said that to me growing up, about how he always writes us into his whole history.

  11. Melissa (@wxmommy) says:

    Oh, my heart. So beautiful. So true. All of it. You have a gift – gorgeous writing!

  12. Venus says:

    I've missed you, lovely lady! And to come back to us with something so gut-wrenchingly amazing… thanks! Happy birthday to your little man. And all my best to you!

    • Kate says:

      I've missed you too! "gut-wrenchingly amazing?" man. the thought that anyone could ever think that about something I've written…I don't even know what to say, except, thank you.

  13. Marta28 says:

    Oh Kate I loved this. Loved loved this. Especially the last line was my favorite, "Balloons are the least I can do, don’t you think, for infinity?" =D You're such a great mother and writer.

  14. Abrakaq says:

    Oh Kate I loved this. Loved loved this. Especially the last line was my favorite, "Balloons are the least I can do, don’t you think, for infinity?" =D You're such a great mother and writer.
    http://perfect-essays.net What do you mean by saying that?

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