Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Meet My Son...

My son came into this world screaming, purple and pissing on the kindly nurse who just wanted to have the umbilical cord cut and get on with her very long shift. He is 13 now, brilliant as his mum, and not nearly as hard headed as his old man. The moment he came into the world, my life was no longer my own. My life was to protect him, to round the sharp corners of the planet. The day we left the hospital I had such a relentless white-knuckled grip on his baby seat, I swear to you, a regiment of soldiers would have torn my arm straightaway from its socket before i could have let go of my son. What follows is for posterity sake, to quote the venerable mr. cummings "miracles are to come, with you I leave the remembrance of miracles".

e.e. cummings. 
These are the lessons my son taught me. This is the wisdom of childhood, unpolluted by the world-weary cynicism of the adult world, still teeming with a boundless imagination, tireless and sublime. This is the lens he sees the world through, these are the new eyes that he gave me. This is the miracle of being a father, this is the miracle of children.

The first lesson was stark and simple and unutterably profound, I realized the moment he was born that I no longer owned my own heart, it now beat outside my chest, now rested in the infinitely fragile frame of an infant child. As he grows that realization grows with him. As he hurts I hurt more, as he triumphs I am ever rejoicing. And the love I feel for him, transcendent and deeply visceral, was the very thing that broke my heart and compelled me to join the anti-child trafficking movement.

The second lesson was I am a selfish ________. Fill in the blank, you're prolly pretty close. Ask his mum if you need some more colorful words. Nothing like a child's total dependence on you to make you realize you still think of your life as your own. A child's world is as big as his belly. If he is hungry he opens his mouth and there is a very discreet amount of time allotted for it to be filled with food before it is filled with screams. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED feeding him, changing him, but seriously, I mean how much can a child eat??! And does he not realize where it all goes?!! And what is with the not sleeping, the multiple middle of the night feedings??!?? Really?!? But now, oh how I miss those moments, those first everythings, those tiny little hands grasping everything for recognition, those little legs peddling in the air prophesying running, bike rides, and long hot summer swims. Maybe the second lesson should be re-titled to: Don't be a selfish ________, you'll miss some of the best moments of your life. 

The third lesson was never underestimate a child, never give them a pat answer, never, ever ever ever think you are smarter then them. You. Are. Not. From the time my son was 18 months he was dedicated to consuming all knowledge known to man. He was intuitive, uninhibited, relentless in his desire to understand the workings of the world. He would say, "How does a car work?" To which I would answer. "Well son, it has an engine, that runs on gas, a bunch of little explosions of that gas create the energy that moves the car forward." Ignoring my insult to his superior intellect my son would again say "tell me how a car works". Slower this time and with maybe just a hint of condescension. So I would start with decaying plant matter in the ground, the heat and the pressure that turned it to crude, the drilling, the refining, the shipping, the pumping, the internal combustion, the pistons, rods, rocker arms, the tranny, the drive train, the rear differential..... And then when I was done my son would say. Tell me again. So I would, with the help of his corrections if I attempted to give an abbreviated version. After a few run throughs he wouldn't ask again. He had it. 18 months old. By 24 months he had his mind around the applied Physics of fulcrums and levers and pivot points. Now at 13 he speaks freely on every subject from sub-atomic particles to the dark matter hidden in the universe. I no longer require the use of Google. I have my son. 

There are of course a thousand other lessons my son taught me but none hit me with the blunt force of a thousand freight chains like this one: I was not prepared for the love I would feel for him. And then in that single most incredible moment when my heart was exploding I realized I was only feeling one single drop in the ocean of the affection God has for His children. I have never been so humbled, so speechless, so deeply affected by anything else in my life. So many misconceptions about the heavenly Father melted away in that instant when I held my son. So many times since then when my aching for my kid became a revelation of God's infinite love for me, for us, his silly, skint-kneed, snot-sniffing, broken, beautiful children.

I am not the father I had hoped to be, I am still so selfish, still consumed by so many things that probably don't amount to anything. But every time I am with my little man I want to be a better father, and patiently my son teaches me, each time anew, that the most important thing is just to give a child your time and affection. The rest kinda takes care of itself. This post is especially hard for me because I will be away from him for an extended time soon and because I am very private person, and oh so very protective of him. And because he reads my blog I want to say I love you Mosie. I am so proud of you. You are the best thing I ever did. This is the remembrance of the miracle you are to me, the miracle that you are to this world, and the many, many miracles to come.

Meet my son, River Moses.

Spoils of the climb. Riv finds a crocodile skull duck-taped shut at the bottom of Red Bluff.
At the Windsor Ruins in North Mississippi. River, never one to be so very meticulous in minding unnecessary rules, ignores the "Keep Out" warnings and explores the site.

Above, River sends unsuspecting seagulls squawking at the beach in Gulfport, MS. Below, my handsome, incredible, brilliant young man.


  1. This is beautiful Mark. So many men could learn from your dedication, not only to River, but to life, love and humanity. You have taught me so much about how to be a servant to others. Thank you for being the person you are and please have safe travels. I know you're out there doing God's work. Love you brother!


  2. Rosie!! Thank you so much for those amazing words. Love you sis!!!

  3. I remember a mention of your son in one of your posts a while ago...I am happy to finally meet him :)

  4. hahaha. Thank you Rebecca. I really struggled with this one, but I felt it would really explain the love of the Father as I see it. And I am so proud of him!!!!!