Dear Jackson,

I loved you long before you were born. You were the destination I was traveling toward for years. But it took me so long to reach you because I came via back roads, side-streets and muddy ditches. I got bad directions en route to motherhood. And having resisted it for years, once my heart melted into a place where I was ready for children I discovered that God had saved the best for last.

Because, my first born, my beautiful son, the day I met you a part of me was also reborn.

We were living in South Africa, finally home after a decade abroad. Even before you arrived you were already rebuilding rusty bridges between my family and me. You were the touch stone of our reconnection; your 4D ultra sound, your tiny beating heart and kicking feet. The plans for your delivery, decorating our tiny cottage, and feathering a little nest for you brought us new intimacy after years of distance. You were ours; a first for everyone. And we all loved you long before you were born.

It was a journey into the heart of hearts, that hard road of labor and delivery. I felt profoundly connected to the all the women who had walked it before me. I treasured up their courage and kept them in my mind’s eye even as I felt I must be watching the experience from a distance. Because it was surreal to be at the center of a scene I had till then only observed in countless made-for-TV movies. To be told it was time to push, to anticipate a baby would come from and out of all that work. My mind couldn’t grasp it. I didn’t believe it possible. I couldn’t believe it would happen. I couldn’t comprehend how a human being would emerge, alive and breathing from inside me. But you did.

My son, you did. You came roaring into the world with an angry balled up face, flailing fists and eyes screwed up tight closed against the unknown. They gave you to me. Rather, they gave you back to me and placed you on my breast, above my beating heart. I spoke and at the sound of my voice you stopped crying and turned your little blind face in the direction of my voice. And I discovered I was your mom.

Whole galaxies could fit into the space between who I was before and who I became after that moment. It would need to be measured in light years.

Because of you I am more exhausted than I ever remember being and more fulfilled and satisfied than I ever imagined possible. Because of you I live on the precipice of vulnerability, unable to escape the gaping maw of my imagination because I know what would happen to me if anything ever happened to you. I would be unmade.

Jackson, my love, even when you are cross or frustrated or crabby I love you in ways I didn’t know I had it in me to love. I love you not because of anything you do or say, but simply because you are. Because you are, I love you. It’s that simple. Everything else is icing. Four years of sweet, sweet icing!

Four years of big blue eyes, Eskimo kisses and scrawny legs wrapped in vice-like monkey hugs around my middle. Four years of countless renditions of lullabies and sippy cups full of milk, morning, noon, and night. Four years of passionate declarations of love for mommy and four years of hero worship for daddy. Four years of countries and cultures that you have lavishly embraced as you own. Four years of watching you fit seamlessly into any new place, accepting it as home. Watching you run at life full tilt makes me want to grab your hand and hurl myself head-over-heels off the beaten track into your world.

Four years seems like a lifetime. How delicious that it’s just the beginning.

I love you, Jackson.

I am your Mama. For 4 years now.