Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart


all my children ~

NoahJuly1986BaptismalGown

baby boy Gildersleeve

I adore kids. Especially babies, but really? I like any age. And I always have. Even when I told my mother I did NOT want to get married (who would?? :) ), I told her I wanted kids.

“You can’t have children if you’re not married,” my mother insisted. A logical age 8, 9, 10, & older, I would reply: “Dogs do.” My mother would, yet again, try to explain to me that people were not dogs. We would become distracted over whether dogs go to heaven (at Sunday School they said no, so I wasn’t interested in going), but I never did give in. Marriage left me bored. Kids? Oh yeah!

It took me operations, miscarriages, and a lot of patience to have my two wonderful sons. But even before them, I had cousins to ‘mother.’ And after them, I’ve had nieces, nephews, students & young friends & colleagues. So today’s post is in honour of what it means to mother — not about the many women who have mothered me, but the wonderful men, women, & children whom I’ve been privileged to love & baby.

Obviously, my two sons. Both amazingly wonderful — smart, handsome, witty, and compassionate men. From the first moment I knew I was carrying each one, I was ecstatic. Each was a wanted baby. And I never for a moment regretted that they weren’t girls. Just like I never regret anything about them today.

N, N, Sandra & Donald, Christmas 2008

sons, a nephew, a niece

And nieces. Wonderful young women who are brilliant, funny, beautiful, and confident. And also compassionate. Political in all the right ways: standing up for their friends as well as others. Each of them is a bit my daughter, at least to me. I am easily as proud of their accomplishments as their mothers are!

Nephews, too. Strong, sensitive, intelligent and witty. Each very different. Each a treasure. I am blessed with the nicest guys you can imagine.

And students… So many over the years. Ones who began their first (of several) classes with me crying in my office. Ones who insisted they hated writing. Ones who sat in my office for YEARS eating lunch, never speaking at ALL the first few months… (that made headlines even on the floor where I officed…) Ones whose parents disapproved of them, ones who disapproved of themselves. All I could do was love them. Sometimes hard enough to fail them in class. Sometimes crazy  enough to make them smile. But always tapping into whatever it is that makes men & women nurture the young around us.

Nathan & Noah Ninja TurtlesThis Sunday we call that quality ‘mothering.’ Next month it will be a part of ‘fathering.’ And it doesn’t require the biological passage of an infant from inside to outside. It only requires love and gratitude. Which I am grateful to have in almost limitless supply.

So this is the post thanking ‘all my children.’ My biological sons. My daughter-nieces. My nephews. My students and colleagues and friends. Each of you has helped me grow. And all my flaws are gentler because of loving you. Happy Mother’s Day!



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