I’m afflicted this morning with a nervous stomach. I’ll expound in more detail at a later time, but I’ve been reading this book – The Wisdom of the Enneagram. It talks a lot about remaining present, living in the moment and feeling the sensations of the heart and the body. It so happens that, of all the personality types in the Enneagram, my particular type sucks most at staying present. This describes the reason behind my nervous stomach – it’s me, sucking at staying present.
I have these two boys, and they are growing too fast. Most of the time, I contrast their growth against the shallow number of years they’ve been with me, and I become consumed with worry. Worry. That’s too weak a word. Panic is a better descriptor. I glance at a calendar, or worse – at my children’s escalating growth markers scribed upon the wall of our pantry – and I’m beset with the sort of panic that strikes a person who’s left his house, and hours later, the thought creeps upon him that he’s left the gas from the stove on, and with certainty, he knows that the things he treasures most in the world will be consumed by flames – by carelessness and neglect, reduced to a mound of ash.
My oldest, Samuel – he turns nine today. I’ve been telling him for the past several weeks that, this year, he is not allowed to become a year older. We will do the whole birthday party song and dance; he’ll still get a load of gifts, the cake, the song, all that crap, but as to this business of turning nine – he should forget about that. Dad’s not ready to have his first born be one year shy of double digits. Check with me next year – maybe then. Probably not, though.
Problem is, there’s no denying that he’s growing fast, and the idea is to experience the present, not put it on hold so I can stew over it longer. Stewing, after all, is the problem.
Sometimes, I see Samuel when he first wakes in the morning. He strolls down the hall, awake and prepared for the day, while his brother and mother and our crazy pugs remain snoozing – and I am preparing to stumble, bleary-eyed, out to my rush-hour-bound SUV. Those are the moments I see it most – when the house and so much of our world remains motionless, quiet. He’s grown. Just since yesterday, he’s grown. Whenever I see him this way, I try not to disturb the quiet. Just short of a whisper, I tell him, “Good morning”, and then I watch him, dumbstruck. This boy, this child – how incredible he is. In one of the grandest of all life’s mysteries, his mother and I came together, and we ushered into the world a soul far better than either one of us. And those often inexplicable sounds of the night – the creaks and groans – it becomes clear to me that these are the sounds of our children, growing, becoming more.
Happy Birthday to my dear boy. I’ve decided to change my mind on the whole idea of not letting you turn nine. It was a silly idea in the first place, and besides, I think nine will be a wonderful year for you and me. You’ll keep growing, and in my own way, I’ll grow right along with you – learning to see and feel the moments we have together. I am so especially fond of you, my son.