Everest Turns Ten

IMG_4162I’ve written birthday posts for my kids for as long as I’ve had this blog. Last year I also wrote a letter to my firstborn, and read it to him in a private ceremony where I welcomed him into his ninth year. This year I’ve decided to share his birthday letter here.

I believe that one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is reflecting back their essential, intrinsic, inviolable qualities that are not based on externals, outcomes, or achievements. Children know themselves largely because of how they are reflected back by caregivers and influential adults. When we only reflect back their stuck points and challenges, it’s easy for them to develop a belief system of being “bad” or “wrong” in some way. But when we take time to reflect their intrinsic qualities of mind, heart, and soul, their stuck points are cushioned by a strong sense of self-worth. That’s part of the reason why I write these letters to my kids: so that they know and value who they are regardless of external successes and failures.

Thank you, my readers, for the supportive space you hold for me so that I can share these vulnerable parts of my life with you. May you be inspired or guided by them in some way.

I started writing this yesterday. Today Everest turns ten. 

***

*Shared with permission from Everest.*

August 9th, 2014

My dear Everest,

Ten years ago my labor began. Ten years ago your descent into this world began. It was the middle of the night, enveloped in darkness, and you decided to initiate your journey down the birth canal. The culture would say that you were three and a half weeks early, but I know you were right on time, following your own rhythm just as you follow it today.

It took you nearly two days to arrive, forty-two hours to be exact. The culture would say that it was a long labor, but I know that it was exactly how long you needed to navigate the tight space and allow yourself to leave the comfort of the womb. We’ve been talking a lot about readiness lately – how people learn new things or make changes when they’re ready – and this was your first example of trusting your own readiness.

Thank you for making that journey. Thank you for being born. I can hardly express what a privilege it is to be your mother. There are no words to tell you how much I love you. But still I try because I don’t want to wait for the momentous occasions in your life to put my gratitude and love into words. Today, on your tenth birthday, I want to tell you how I see you: the beautiful, wise, heartful you that you naturally are.

I’ll start with your heart.

The other day, as you and Asher played at the creek, Daddy and I sat on the banks and talked about compassion. He had attended his weekly meditation group the night before and the topic was compassion, and he said that the Buddhists believe that this is the highest quality to cultivate. The teacher said that you can read about Dharma all you want but if you don’t have compassion – both for yourself and others – it’s not an embodied experience. He shared that the ultimate compassion is when you can feel that everything is alive – that when a tree limb is cut you feel its suffering, that each insect is worthy of life, that every living being needs our compassion – and you bring this embodied, heart awareness to all of your interactions.

And then your dad said just what I was thinking: “Everest has more compassion than anyone I’ve ever known. We didn’t teach it to him; he just has it.” You are the child who feels like the pain of the trees. You are the one who has no tolerance for unkindness to people, animals, or plants. You are the one who became a vegetarian at age five. You are the one who tries to stop us from pulling out the weeds in our garden, and then teaches your little brother to transplant the weeds into their own garden on the opposite side of our yard. You are the one who won’t read books about war, and won’t engage in any play where there are winners and losers because, as you say, “The person who loses always feels bad.” You are the one who rubs your eyes if someone so much as mentions the word “tears” or “sadness”; that’s how deep your empathy runs. When you came home from art camp yesterday you told me that some of the kids were talking about how if a bug lands in a painting it gets stuck there, and how upsetting that was for you. You don’t miss a single unkind moment in this life, and you do your best to only bring kindness and compassion to others.

I’m thinking about all of the times that you’ve saved bugs: ladybugs in the middle of our road; the caterpillars on the hiking path; and, of course, the mosquitoes flying around our house. The mosquito catcher you made is ingenious, and I wonder if it’s the first mosquito catcher ever invented that doesn’t hurt mosquitoes !

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I know you still want to invent your mosquito helicopter so that mosquitoes will be blown away by the downdraft instead of hurt by people swatting them. It makes me think about the plan you’ve had for years to invent an airplane that will clean up the Earth’s atmosphere. You’re ten now, so you’re getting closer each year to when you can actually make that happen.

Your mind, my love: it just blows me away. You see the world in pictures and are able to make things I’ll never be able to make, put things together that would take me a lifetime to figure out, and understand things that I’ll never understand. Asher asks, “Is there gravity on other planets?” and you know the answer. He asks, “How do car motors work?” and you can explain it to him in detail. What would I do without your amazing mind to answer all of Asher’s questions? Your mind absorbs information about science and engineering in a way that allows you to make connections that Daddy and I completely miss. Like the other day when Daddy was putting together the pool pump and you said, “If the pump is higher than the water isn’t that going to make it difficult to pump the water?” You saved the day, again. And when we went bike riding together the other night and my brakes were squeaking you were able to adjust them so that they were safer for me. I’m in awe of your spatial intelligence every day.

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Your imagination is stellar, especially when you’re playing with Asher. You are the most amazing big brother; Asher is so lucky. Do you know that Asher’s favorite times are when you play outer space and flying games with him? I don’t even know how you think up such imaginative and elaborate games (you get it from your Daddy, for sure)! And there are times when your imagination meets your compassion and you just melt my heart, like a few nights ago when we took a family bike ride and Asher was complaining that his seat was too hard. You said, “Asher, just pretend that you’re riding a dinosaur and he has a really hard back.” That did it; we didn’t hear a peep out of him the rest of the ride. You seem to have a knack for knowing just what to say to Asher that will help him find his good mood again.

The world needs you, my angel: it needs your heart, your mind, and your imagination. And you don’t have to do anything but be you and allow your love of life and deep compassion for the world to guide your actions. Just as you do every day.

I’ve been crying as I’ve been writing, and I’m probably crying now as I read this to you. I want you to know that they’re the best kinds of tears: tears of pure love and gratitude. Tears of fullness and aliveness. Tears that can only arise when we risk our hearts and love without restriction or inhibition. This is how I love you.

In the end, all I can say, over and over and over again, is, “Thank you, God. Thank you for my Everest. I know he’s not mine, and I pray for the ability to let him go as he needs to go, to fly when he’s ready to fly, to trust that the tether of love that began with the umbilical cord will guide him through his life with safety, comfort, and wisdom. Thank you, God, for the privilege of mothering this magnificent child. Thank you.”

Happy 10th birthday, my sweet love. Thank you for being you.

38 comments to Everest Turns Ten

  • Jane

    What a gem of a person he is!! Thank you for sharing this Sheryl. How special a mother’s love is. He is so blessed to have you reflect his self back to him :) Happy Birthday sweet Everest! :)

  • Ashley

    This is the most beautiful letter Sheryl. I am simply in tears and in awe of your mothering, not only for you beautiful sons but also your clients and forum members ;) Thank you for the gift of you.

  • Laura

    Dear Sheryl, thank you for sharing this very personal letter. It is so inspiring .Everest is a lucky boy to have a mother like you to guide him through his childhood until he is ready to fly for himself. But it also sounds like you are one lucky mummy, I can completely understand why your tears have been flowing while writing this. He sounds like a little angel. I am inspired and it completely strikes a chord with me. It is actually kind of peculiar.. Reading this birthday message I realise that it is a little over a year ago that I found your website, during the night of course, in desperate anxiety, and I found comfort . so much that I believe that this website and your course is what helped me through my months of bad anxiety . anyway in October I became pregnant ! And I am now a mother to this beautiful little boy who I want to give my all to. This letter of yours is an inspiration because one of my greatest fears is that I wont be able to see who he is and to support him in all the right ways. You are so good at this. And I just want to say thank you for sharing. It is very touching and gives me a lot of hope. I will do my utmost to SEE my little boy for exactly who he is and be there for him. And happy birthday to the lovely Everest!

    • Congratulations on your baby boy and I’m so glad you found your way to my work! Yes, I do believe that learning to see our children in their wholeness – their gifts and their challenges – and reflecting that back to them through the lens of love is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. A wonderful book on this topic is called, “All Children Flourishing.” Also, if your son is highly sensitive I recommend “The Highly Sensitive Person” by Elaine Aron.

  • Esther

    Precious.

  • Laura

    And thank you for everything !!!:)

  • Tears. Pure love, incredibly moving. To be loved like this is what everyone needs. But to be ABLE to love like this is the fulfilment of life.

  • Katie

    So beautiful. I, too, was in tears reading this. I have a wonderful mother who I love with all my heart but it would have been so much better for me as a child if I could have been appreciated for my qualities instead of being made to feel insecure about them. I really think showing appreciation for a child’s sensitivity and empathy is so import for their healthy development of self. You are such a good example of the parenting style I wish to embody when I start a family. Thank you Sheryl for another inspiring post.

    • Yes, Katie, sadly we live in a world that doesn’t value the highly sensitive among us. Chances are high that your mother may also be highly sensitive and wasn’t valued, either, so didn’t know how to value and see herself or you. It’s really the culture that needs to change in terms of the mainstream message it disseminates that sensitivity and empathy are qualities to be stamped out early in life.

  • Grace

    The best gift he will receive: “Thank you, God, for the privilege of mothering this magnificent child. Thank you.”
    Lots of love and Happy Birth-day,
    Grace

  • Thank you for sharing that amazing letter, Sheryl. You’ve been an inner life guide to me for 30 years and I’m so lucky to be a parent now– a few years behind you and Daev– so I can learn from you about many wonderful ways to go about parenting. A letter like this is in the works for my lttle angel’s next birthday– thanks to you. And thanks as always for your intelligent parenting leadership. And wow– Everest is some kid isn’t he!? No wonder my daughter has a 4 year old crush on him :)

  • Angela

    Dear Sheryl, absolutely beautiful mother and daughter. Your an amazing mother. Happy 10 th Birthday Everest. We share the same birthday. My birthday was on the 10th august And I had a beautiful day with my husband. I always look forward to your blogs. I’ve been travelling really well… Life has been so good no anxiety. I can actually see the light. I feel like I was in the dark and now I see light. Thanks to you Sheryl.. I will never stop thanking you. I’m so happy to be part of your beautiful world with your family. God bless you..

  • Angela

    Oops I’m so sorry. I meant happy birthday to your son Everest. Not daughter.. A mistake

  • Sallyanne

    What an amazing letter and what a beautiful and wonderful little boy you have!
    I read a lot of your posts and they have helped me tremendously over the past couple of years. We are expecting our second child and have been stuck on boys names and I now have it… Everest! My partner loves it too and when people ask me where I thought of the name, I shall tell them it was from a letter wrote to her son for his tenth birthday. Once again, Thank you Sheryl. x

  • Sheryl,
    I was so moved by this – all the details, all the moments you described with such love. I was moved because I could see through your words what a special little angel you have brought into the world. I was moved by your outpouring of gratitude and the sense of freedom that must have given you to move through the sadness of letting go so that you could just marvel, enjoy and breathe in all the love within your heart. I was moved by what your little boy would have felt when all this love was reflected back to him. And I was moved by your sharing such a vulnerable part of you! Thank you Sheryl! You are a true inspiration and I feel so grateful for having found you. Happy Birthday Everest! xxx

    • It’s one of the deepest experiences of love to share and receive in this space. It’s a wordless space with a lot of tears where we’re both swimming in the underground river of love together – the place of poetry that you cannot see or touch but you can feel with your heart.

  • loveisallaround

    Thank you for trusting us to share this very personal, vulnerable, and beautiful letter, and your son, with us.

    Happy birthday to Everest, and happy day you became a mom to you!

  • My dear daughter,

    Thank you for being your wonderful self and for so lovingly supporting my beautiful grandson in being his wonderful self.

    Mom

  • Crystal

    “Thank you, God. Thank you for my Everest. I know he’s not mine, and I pray for the ability to let him go as he needs to go, to fly when he’s ready to fly, to trust that the tether of love that began with the umbilical cord will guide him through his life with safety, comfort, and wisdom. Thank you, God, for the privilege of mothering this magnificent child. Thank you.”
    Im trying to find the words to express how this touched me…beautiful, inspiring, generous, grateful, loving

  • lalalove

    OH geez, tears. He is so lucky to have you as a mother and these letters you write will be something he can cherish forever :) :)

  • Sarah

    So beautiful, brought tears to my eyes. He is lucky to have a mother like you and you are lucky to have a son like him!

  • Katie

    What a beautiful letter! Happy birthday to Everest and also to you Sheryl, because that’s when you became a mother! God bless you both.

  • kjf

    Everest, I have 3 ants living in my bathroom because of you. Happy 10th birthday! Im blessed to know you through your mom.

  • Simply beautiful sharing Sheryl. Inspiring to read as a mother myself, navigating todlder and infant years with great humility, awe and lots of practice, learning and joy. Happy Birthday to your amazing son Everest. Congratulations on your inspiring mothering.

  • Rae

    Sheryl:

    I’ve been traveling non-stop for work these last several months, so I haven’t posted anything. However, I consider it part of my routine spiritual practice to NEVER MISS reading your blog. I am always here in spirit, taking it all in.

    This post was so special I had to take time to comment. There is nothing more beautiful than getting a glimpse of a mother’s unconditional love for her child. You are honoring and celebrating us all by sharing your awe of this magnificent human being.

    The second I read about the transplanted weeds, the tears started to fall and didn’t stop. What a gentle spirit he is. You are lucky to have him. He is lucky to have you. And we who follow your work are lucky to have you too! You “parent” us as well you know.

    Happy Birthday Everest!!!!

  • This is thoroughly beautiful. You two are a gift to each other. Also inspires me to look at people in my life with such beautiful eyes! You are beautiful

  • Melissa

    Such a beautiful gift to your son. It is inspiring that there are children in the world being raised with such awareness and love, and that they will grow up trusting & loving themselves unconditionally. I love what you said about readiness, I have been thinking a lot about that lately as well because there is so much pressure in the world to “start before you’re ready!” and “just do it!” and I really question that messaging. For those who are highly sensitive or more introverted or thoughtful, many things do take time and rushing them would not make sense–trusting our own readiness around things makes space for them to happen without so much impatience and urgency.
    Thank you as always for your heart-filled post!!

  • stephanie

    I’m so thankful for the women who have mentored and guided in my own growth as a woman. You are one of them. Your special way of cherishing your children, family, and home inspires me to love more. What caught my attention with this letter is how you love and appreciate Asher’s differences. He is wired differently than you in some ways, and you honor his differences. When I think about differences me and my partner have, I can grow anxious — but here, you see Asher’s differences as beautiful and valuable to the family! I also love that you honor birthdays. I have been revisiting your blog entries on rituals, as the weather here is starting to show the first signs of fall. I am inspired by these posts as well. I hope to be able to see how you see and love how you love…in my own way.

  • Thank you so much for your wonderful presence in the world Sheryl. Being a fortunate daughter, not eve close to have my own children, I still have tears running non-stop.. This is so beautiful, so touching and such flood of love.. Thank you for the beautiful example – you are truly an amazing light. I came across your video (about Transition and change), it completely captured my heart and I went on following you (in fact, I wished to read piece and bit of inspiration from you everyday! but realised you didn’t have a facebook page or sort..). All in all, thank you thank you for the beautiful spirit You Are, and you are Such a beautiful woman (on on the out) in this life time! :) I know where to look to when I have my transitions! :) Huge love and light. Jingjing