Happy Birthday: A Look Back

Our firstborn child: the recipient of every parenting error, disaster, and well . . . mistake! I speak from experience because I, too, am a firstborn child; as is my husband. A saving grace in our marriage, is that the two of us focus on different things from which we demand perfection! But I digress.

After giving birth to Son #1, I remember being overwhelmed with emotion. Honesty would dictate, that not all of them were warm and fuzzy! It’s that same panic you felt upon receiving a high school diploma or some prestigious award, while knowing deep down inside; that from your personal perspective, you were no more qualified now, than you were 10 minutes before receiving it!

Welcome to parenthood.

When you add to that trial-by-error commitment into motherhood, a decision to home educate . . . Let the good times roll, baby! Notice that I have avoided several other pitfalls such as to breast or bottle feed, attachment parent or schedule, vaccinate or not . . . the list is endless!

Sadly, so are the fears, phobias, and insecurities that ride on the coattails of societal and familial expectations.

My hope, as a mother who has been in these trenches for, well, 24 years, is to provide both encouragement, hope, and perspective, along with a bit of laughter.

My list could go on for days (that’s the honest truth), but for your sake as well as time constraints, here is the consolidated version.

Things Son #1 Has Taught Me . . . So Far!

1. You’re on a serious learning curve from here on out. Parenting is for keeps. Making yourself an avid student is a win/win for both you and the children involved. Your first child will put up with a lot. Go easy whenever you can. We have joked with him frequently about the fact that he is quite possibly ruined, and how sorry we are for it after the fact. Emphasis on joke. In both our opinion, as well as experience, it is wise to emphasize from birth, that age has its privileges and its responsibilities. The oldest child sets the tone for a lot of things that will be coming down the pike on your home-front. Seeking a balance between responsibilities and privileges is an investment in your entire family.

2. Seek to know the intent of the heart, and be willing to listen to it. I choose to follow the example and teachings of Jesus. He was unsurpassed in both arenas. Regardless of outward appearance, social standing, or seeming success, he always concerned himself with issues of the heart. It can be so easy to fall prey to “what the Joneses are doing and thinking.” But “the Joneses” aren’t raising your children. You are. You are the expert, and the qualified individual leading your family. Knowing intent of the heart is going to take you through some interesting adventures that will involve hills you honestly shouldn’t expend the energy to die on! Because trust me, dear mothers, there will be bigger ones coming! We have seen several hair colors, styles, clothing combos, and what not, on which many well-meaning individuals were more than willing to offer an opinion! Young people have enough pressure and plenty of expectations to live up to, without the burden of wondering whether or not you are in their corner.

3. Think carefully before choosing to divulge their confidences to your own peers. This is huge. Your kids need to know that you are a safe, nurturing place in which to confide and vent. Making and taking the time to give undivided attention and a listening ear in their young, tender years, will most certainly guarantee a choice on their part to confide in you, while navigating tougher and much more complex issues later on down the road. If you do need a personal confidante, make certain they are qualified and committed to both you and your child where your best interest is concerned.

4. Perspective and accurate perceptions are two of your greatest assets. Faithfully endeavor to keep fresh ones! “Will this matter a year from now?” is a great place to start when you’re feeling overwhelmed or uncertain. Most of the time, the answer will be no! Working through issues to get to the heart of them, while having open, honest dialogue regarding them, is an investment of time that will pay massive dividends. Looking at things from another’s viewpoint, while examining both the accuracy and truth of your own, is a worthy habit to embrace. Trust me on this. This would include your faith, extended family, friends, and peers. This child, in the number one position, wields tremendous influence, power and even control over other children who are coming up in the ranks.

Sons #1 and #5

Discipline, which has its root in discipleship is far more wise than punishment will ever be. The latter chooses convenience over vision.

5. Admit your errors often and ask for grace. We all wish to be validated for our position and authority. The fact is, modeling transparency, humility and grace teaches your children to do the same; while giving you credibility and authority with them you can’t begin to imagine! Birth order dictates, by simple default of position, that someone is seen as the authority. It is my desire that all of our boys model these mentioned traits when dealing with their own siblings, first, and then with others.

So, what about the educational piece, and that monkey-on-the-back called “socialization”?

Let me assure you that he has “holes” in his education. So do I. So do you, and everyone else walking around in society! No methodology is exempt from them; so stop trying to own every little nook and cranny, moms!

Most importantly, he loves to learn. Still. At 24.

He reads voraciously, and knows no limitations to accessing and processing information in order to obtain knowledge. This equals success on pretty much any level, every time, for all of us willing to be committed.

The profession he has chosen (and that also chose him through a rigorous process) is an online technologies company that currently has over 1.5 million users.

He is a face of customer service, where they interact with 60 to 140 individuals daily. It is an integral piece of what they do. He has to think, process, and be willing to live outside of the box.

I couldn’t be more proud . . . or humbled.

Despite my mistakes, errors and even a few disasters, he thrived. Judging from all we currently see, this will continue.

Most importantly, his success and influence have remained in tact where they matter most: within the family.

Carry on, Mom! Your work and faith are not in vain! The prize rewarded to the diligent, faithful, and teachable spirit is success.

Happy Birthday, Son #1!

Thanks so much for the gifts!

Teri is a believer in God, family, community, and lover of leadership education the Thomas Jefferson way. Teri writes and also speaks about lessons learned on her educational journey with 5 rambunctious sons, ages 22 down to 9, one hero Hubby, and celebrating day to day life with lots of humor, within the human race. You can find Teri blogging at Tommy Mom.

Similar Posts


  1. I just wanted to say thank you so much for this article. The timing of it was perfect for me. I so needed to hear many of the things you had to say.

  2. Thank you, Teri! This was a great encouragement to me today! My sons are 3 and 1 right now, and sometimes it is so hard to keep my focus on the long-term! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *