Birthday Love


I woke up this morning with his feet in my face. 

Today I wanted to remember the gift of his birth, the gift of his presence, and the gift of this time. He will not always be my baby boy. God only knows how much time I have with him, but there is a fierce desire to hold onto this moment– when he still fits in my lap. I named him after one of our heroes, Muhammad Ali, because he was a man who cared deeply for humanity. He never retreated from the truth. That is how I want my child to be in the world. 

Here’s what I want to remember: 

He surprises me. 

He kisses me without prompts. 

He does not expect much in return. 

Except my unending, unyielding, uncompromising attention. 

Yes, he does not expect much. 

He loves food. His favorite food is hotdogs and melted cheese.

He makes me laugh. 

He rubs lotion on my feet when I ask.

He loves whales and rockets. 

He helps his sister.

The timeline I remember now

A few days before his first birthday, he did not take hesitant steps. He pushed himself up and began to run! He was running or sliding down the stairs before I could even get the railings in.

A few days before his second birthday, he dressed up in a suit and a bowtie. He wanted to go to work like his dad. He pretended to drive a firetruck at the Staten Island Museum.

A few days before his third birthday, he declared, “I’m not a baby. I’m a big boy. I can go potty in the big toilet.” [verbatim] 

The Stories He Tells

He did not speak much for 2 years, and then when he did, it was in stories with a beginning, middle and end. Praise the Creator. I did nothing to coax the stories out of him; I barely read to him with any regularity, and still he seemed to get enough. 

I tell him stories from my books, about a prince named Alizyad Al-Qhatani, a practicing Muslim prince who loves history and economics. He leads prayer at the mosque. He builds (and finances) a hospital for a hopeful queen. He battles monsters and demons and swims like a fish in the middle of a desert kingdom. He respects his parents. He is a character that I wish I had as a child. He comes from Shannon Chakraborty’s series, A City of Brass, Kingdom of Copper, and A Empire of Gold– my most favorite book series of all time. 

I praise the Creator for the opportunity to raise a child with a strong will. He screams and I scream back. He cries and I cry back. He threatens, “I’ll hit you” and then giggles and collapses into my arms. He is a force within our home. In an earlier post, I described him as a bowling ball, and as he grows taller he still feels like a bowling ball in my arms. He has a gentleness that is unlike me; an energy and decibel level that very much matches my own; and a consciousness that is like his dad. He does not eat until he asks if his sister has eaten. He wakes up asking where is his sister? He wants everyone to eat together.

Today, and each day, I thank the Creator for knowing a love like this.

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