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When Your Child Has a Birthday (But YOU Look Older)

Dear Son,

Today is your birthday and you’re creeping toward middle age. You’re not there yet, but it’s lurking around the corner.

You do know, don’t you, that you’re fortunate to be alive? Three times the specter of Death has tried to snatch you, and three times you have escaped.

The first occurred when you were eleven days old. I was standing on the sidewalk outside your sisters’ piano recital, holding you wrapped in a blanket. When I brought you inside and upwrapped the blanket, you were blue and not breathing! It was a shock. Dad blew in your face and you began breathing again.

That resulted in a trip to the hospital, where they sent you home with a monitor. You wore it for the next two months. Whenever you quit breathing or your heart rate dropped, the alarm would go off. We would rush to your crib and hold OUR breath until you breathed again. During that time I noticed a few gray hairs sprouting among my dark ones.

The next brush with death came when you were eleven years old. You were out shopping with Dad when you came home, tumbled into a chair and said, “Ohhh, I don’t feel good.” After a few days and you didn’t improve, we took you to the local hospital. The inept doctor told us you just had the flu, and to give you lots of liquids. Little did he know.

More days passed and you lost about a fourth of your body weight. This mama’s heart was breaking because we didn’t know how to help you. We took you to the Children’s Hospital (great place, great doctors). After the doctor saw the x-rays and your labored breathing, she immediately put you in a wheelchair, rushed you to the hospital wing and personally supervised putting you into bed. I trotted along behind, sprouting more gray hairs along the way.

That began a battery of tests. They kept you for five days, poked you with lots of needles--and never arrived at a satisfactory diagnosis. You had a long recuperation period after that, with many visits to a pulmonary doctor. More gray hairs appeared on your mother’s head but she was too busy worrying about you to notice.

The third time the death angel came, you were grown and living on your own. Driving around a slick curve in the rain, you struck a light pole—and it fell across the roof of your sports car. It could have killed you.

So, you want to know why your mom looks older each time you have a birthday? Three times you escaped the jaws of Death. Each time your mom’s heart writhed in anguish. It’s easier to suffer yourself than to see your child suffer.

Someone asked, “Which is easier to raise, boys or girls?” I liked the answer: “Boys are easier to raise, but harder to keep alive.” Whoever said that must have had a few sons like you.

Keep up the good work of staying alive. Oh, and happy birthday.



How about you? Any thoughts on being a birthday mom? Feel free to comment below.


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