Self-care for clergy
God is in the tragedy too

Ode to your joy

This post -- a letter to our son -- was written earlier this spring, and for some reason languished in my drafts folder for a few months. I can no longer remember why I didn't post it when I first wrote it, so I'm sharing it now.

Sweet boy,

One of the things I admire most about you is your ability to feel and express joy.

Some of this is your age, I'm sure. You're more in-touch with your emotions than most adults are, and you haven't learned yet to be embarrassed about what you feel. It's a precious kind of Eden, which you won't appreciate until it's gone. That's the human condition.

Whatever you're feeling, you feel it intensely. That's true whether you're feeling frustration at the injustices of your existence (not being allowed to snack right before dinner, or to stay up past your bedtime) or delight at the many joys life puts before you: loved ones, favorite songs, favorite foods.

But I think -- I hope -- that some of this is your temperament, too. Maybe openness to joy will be native to you. I hope that your life's circumstances will always provide you with easy access to joy. And I hope that you will always be ready to throw yourself into experiences which are joyful for you.

Becoming a mother -- becoming your mother -- has given me greater access to joy. Not only to my own joy, though there is that, sometimes; but to your joy. I didn't understand, before we began this adventure, how my own heart would exult when I get to see you joyful.

I love watching you in your joy. I love the way your eyes light up when you see me at preschool at the end of a schoolday. I love the joy you take in a good toy (your magnet tiles or Thomas trains or marble run), in leaping at the bouncy houses at the mall, in our weekly pilgrimage to the bakery for a challah and a cookie, in seeing your grandparents in person or via Skype.

I love that one of the things I most often hear you say (to us and to family and to friends and even to people you've just met) is "I'm so happy to see you!" I don't think you know the word "joy," but I know you know the experience of it. Someday, when you're older, maybe you'll begin to understand how much joy you bring to me.

All my love,

Your mom