Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dakota Wolf, 16

Everything Good About Dakota I Can Think Of Right Now

This beautiful boy was born 16 years ago, and so was I. Born into the world together. It is an amazing truth of human life that the simple existence of a life can heal another. In this photo he stands with my Uncle Robert, last month on the Eastern waters. He is incredibly emotionally intelligent, and adults have always, and still do, express their surprise and enjoyment in the depth and scope of conversing with him. I've had many people tell me he has a self-possession and confidence unusual for a teenager- and he always has been that way; I've always heard those words, since he was two. I can't help but assume that some of this is the constant ever steady presence- given in words and action- of unconditional love. Dakota's father said to me once after a disagreement over our son, One thing I know...Dakota knows he is loved in a way I never had. He has always known that with you. I think this is my greatest gift to my children. It matters to me who they are- I want them to be smart, kind, strong, etc- but my love does not rest on those qualities, or any qualities. For better or for worse, even if they were to somehow someway end up terrible, selfish and cruel people, I would love them, and find a way to their hearts. I have a determination to lift my children's hearts that comes through in every choice I make and the words I use. I feel this from the day they are nursing at my breast and looking into my eyes, sleeping next to me, keeping time with my heartbeat. I do everything I can- no spanking, little screaming, baby carrying, nursing, co-sleeping, kisses, hugs, weekly family nights ( Friday ) constant talking, listening, to feed that connection: nurtured throughout childhood, it is the most powerful tool in the years of raising a teen.

Dakota has a physical and spiritual grace that reminds me daily of the simple words young man.
He is, to my mother eyes, the epitome of a young man: strong, generous, stubborn minded, a bit impulsive, intelligent, curious, funny, quick to grin, quick to anger, forgiving, adventurous, and beautiful. It is the great trick of love that I am sure even if he were completely different than this, I would find those qualities the epitome of a young man. It is because he is my child and my son that I can see the greatness in him, and I have always viewed it as my spiritual obligation to always let him know that I do see and believe in the best in him, even when no one else- himself least- can see it.

Dakota once saved Lola. Mr. Curry, baby Lola and Dakota were out front of this very house, when Dakota pushed the button to close the garage door. At that moment, Lola ran past the truck and into the garage. As the door came down on her crawling self, Dakota threw himself on top of Lola, taking the brunt of the door, and Mr. Curry was there to lift the door and let them both out. He was nine.

Dakota thinks deeply and carefully about all of his opinions and interactions with the world. He has never been a bully. He has been in a handful of fist fights, always provoked. He came home after being jumped by three boys in middle school with bruises on his face. The school suspended him for punching the main guy in the face instead of running away, and Mr. Curry and I called and complained to them about their stupid ass policy and took Dakota to dinner.

Dakota told me my favorite joke. How do you make a tissue dance? You put a little boogie in it!

Dakota cut Lola's umbilical cord. He wrote to Mr. Curry this Father's Day Thank you for guiding me through my teenage years. He is the best big brother to Ian Oliver that you could imagine or hope for- fiercely protective of his younger brother, he will not allow even himself to joke meanly at Ian's expense ( the way brothers often can and do ), and despite their huge differences ( Ian is a straight A student who loves school while Dakota middles by and is bored, Ian is Republican, Dakota is straight Democrat, Ian likes gun shooting and Dakota likes skateboarding, Dakota is cutting edge and Ian could care less, Dakota is a big talker and Ian is quiet, etc ) Dakota has always found ways to connect them and although they are not blood brothers ( Ian is from Mr. Curry's first marriage ) Dakota considers this irrelevant- they are brothers, in the truest meaning. They love each other deeply and spend every moment Ian is here- two days and nights a week- together.

I feel a sense of reverence and awe about the birthdays of my children. They mark a day- something that rarely ever happens- when you can pinpoint: This day is when my life changed forever.
sherri said...

beautifully said. and what a handsome young man you have there! he sounds like a wonderful, wonderful son.

SJ said...

You, Maggie, are the kind of mother I hope desperatley to be. Thank you for showing me a small window of your life, and allowing me to share it with you in this abstract tangled-up way. I am lucky, and so are your children to have you. Dakota sounds like a very, very special young man who is going to be a wonderful grown-up man.

svasti said...

Happy birthday to Dakota. He looks like a very fine young man to me. I only wish I'd been fortunate enough to have a big brother like him :)

And I'm sure what Dakota's father said is true. Kids that know they are loved have a much better start in life than those who don't.

Annie said...

Beautiful observations about your son, and his positive impact on your life. I know I began to grow up, once I had my son, who is now 16 and 3 months old. Your story about Dakota saving his little sister, literally, is amazing, and brings the good tears to my eyes. Happy Birthday, Dakota!

Stephanie Meade Gresham said...

I just celebrated my son's first birthday. This post makes me so excited and hopeful for the next years to come.

Lovely.

Allison the Meep said...

Happy Birthday to Dakota.

I love this. It's so sweet to read about how deeply you love him, and I can't wait to see my own boy at that age, and see what an incredible person he becomes. It's so cool to be able to see all of this through parent goggles now.

Lydia said...

Happy birthday to both of you! I loved this post so much, probably all the more because I just spent last week with the young man who adopted me as his mom after communicating via our blogs/emails. He's back in the Philippines now and I miss him terribly. I finally know what it feels like to be a mom.

Dakota is a splendid human being and I'm so glad that he came and changed your life, Maggie.

Elizabeth said...

Happy Birthday to your beautiful young man. I love reading your thoughts about Dakota -- about raising a teenager -- it helps me to look forward as my own two little boys mature.

Happiest birthday to you, too, Maggie. Your are a supreme mother.

Elisabeth said...

Your story here, Maggie reminds me that I too have a brother, one among five, who saved my life when I was a toddler by pushing me back onto a train as it left the station.

This brother is several years older than me, but it is strange that life can take odd turns and at the moment we are estranged, not just he and I but most of my siblings are estranged from this brother.

I hope and trust that this sort of difficulty will not develop for your children.

Different generations provide different experiences in which families grow and hopefully times are better for teenagers nowadays, parents more flexible such that these sorts of estrangements might be less likely. I am confident that one day we might be able to sort out the rift my brother and the rest of us.

Life is too precious to allow these divisions to continue unabated. Thanks Maggie.

starrlife said...

He sounds so wonderful and you are a great mom, inspirational!

Still Life With Coffee said...

What a wonderful young man you have raised. When I see boys/men like this... it warms my heart. Happy birth-day to the two of you.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Dakota sounds very special. Your words about him are beautiful and eloquent.

Many more Happy Birthdays to Dakota and you!

Marion said...

What a touching tribute to your amazing son. You are both fortunate to have each other! Blessings!

clearness said...

It takes a strong family to raise a boy that amazing. Congrats Maggie!

jennifer said...

beautiful boy! happy birthday and congrats on 16 years of motherhood!

Mwa said...

Beautiful post.

You know, you and Ms. Moon are teaching me about how my children's birthdays are also my own special days. I will be thinking of that on Tuesday when my eldest turns six.

Ellen said...

Loving our children unconditionally is the most important gift we can. There may be hard times but just knowing how much love will always be there for everyone will be way more important than any other issue in life.
Your words always stir me....make me think deeply..thank you....

Ms. Moon said...

Dakota reminds me of my own son. That self-knowledge, that special grace, that ability to always be aware of those around him and to show his love. And I have always tried to love my son and all of my children just as you describe. It has worked wonderfully well for me and it will for you too.
Again I say- I love you, Maggie May. I know exactly what you mean when you say you were born when Dakota was.

Petit fleur said...

Happy Birthday Dakota! Great picture!!

Maggie~I have never heard anyoneput into words the way you do my very own feeling about fostering that unconditional love bond from infancy and in every choice you make regarding your child.

I think when a child knows their parent's love the way Dakota knows yours they have a grounded-ness that can not be gotten anywhere else. Not that they won't ever get confused or have probs, but they always have something strong within to come back to. Especially when life gets stormy.

Terresa said...

You've got it straight, sister. Birthdays most def deserve our reverence. Yours was felt in this ode to Dakota.

Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

So beautiful. And now I am crying.

What a neat young man...I so admire your love and promise of unconditional love for your children.

Phoenix said...

This is beautiful - it sounds like Dakota carries with him in his bones and heart all of your best qualities as well :) What a gift for a mother to give to a son!

Jenna said...

What a sweet tribute.

And my shark swimming? Alas, I'm afraid my shark swimming is limited to my imagination, like most of my giant (re: tall-taled) interests. Your daughter may swim with hammerheads long before I do. :)

Bee said...

My daughter turned 16 on June 17th, and all day long I thought about the day she was born. Yes, having your first child changes you forever. I have NEVER thought of myself exclusively as a mother, but when you are a mother that comes first.

This is such a lovely and loving tribute.

anymommy said...

Happy birthday, Dakota. Happy birth day, Maggie.

You made me cry. Beautiful.

Diana said...

I have yet to become a mother but words like this make it feel it can't come sooner.

Annje said...

Breathtaking post. In your description of him there is such love and such pride.

just making my way said...

So beautifully said, Maggie. I hope to be able to emulate some of what you have done - especially through the teen years. He is a beautiful young man.

krista said...

this made my heart swell up so much it hurt.
tis such work, to raise a young man. to let him work himself out when he needs to.
to hear him.

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