This. This right here. This blog post is probably the very reason my now 16 year old son was terrified when he realized that his mother was starting a blog. Because… what else could I possibly write about besides my two kids? Moms don’t really think or do anything that doesn’t involve their offspring. Do they? (Of course, now that I am writing about him, he does have a point.) In my defense, we are at a very important milestone in his life. My firstborn is turning 16 today. Sweet 16. The age of independence. New beginnings. I still cannot believe it has been more than 16 years ago that I was pregnant with him.
Halloween, 2000. We were living in a rental home and had really just settled into the sleepy little neighborhood of Glenview, where I am convinced we brought the average age of our neighbors down by 30 years. Candy was purchased and waiting at the door. I was excited to see all the littles dressed up in their cute costumes that night, but I was also nervous because earlier that day, I bought a pregnancy test. Michael and I had been trying for a few months and up until then, had not had any luck. But that morning, I just felt… different. I can’t even explain how. Right before twilight, before all the trick or treaters would descend upon our house in hopes of scoring some good candy, (‘all’ here refers to about 4; it turns out that our quaint and definitely sleepy ‘hood had not quite turned over yet with a batch of fresh kids… boo) I did the whole ‘pee-on-a-stick-and-wait’ thing. Sure enough, it was positive.
I honestly don’t know if Michael remembers having to hold me while I cried… half happy tears and half scared-to-death tears. The feelings were pretty overwhelming for me that night. But as I look back, I am not sure that my concerns were exactly typical. At least, I don’t think they were. First, I was immediately, absolutely, 100% convinced that I was carrying a boy. So convinced, in fact, that we never asked the dr to confirm the sex during our 20 week routine ultrasound. I didn’t need any confirmation. I knew that my desire to have a daughter was so strong that Murphy’s Law, God, fate, whatever you want to call it, was going to make sure I didn’t get one; at least not this time around. Thank goodness! Because while I may have wanted a daughter, what I really needed was a son.
The truth is, my fear was due to unfamiliarity. You see, my family was full of girls… sisters, aunts, grandmothers, a couple girl cousins too. I had no brothers, no more grandfathers (after the age of 8), and my few male uncles and and one male cousin didn’t live close by. Even my dad traveled a lot for work, so it felt like it was always just ‘us girls’. I didn’t exactly have the most insightful image of what raising a boy would entail. Aren’t they just inconsiderate, stinky, messy, self absorbed beings until they grow up? (OK, as a now-experienced mom, 83% of me wants to apologize for these thoughts and 17% of me wants to say, ‘Am I right, or am I right?”) I really can’t even explain my irrational thoughts that night. I just remember saying over and over again, “I hope he is kind.” and “Lord, please make him nice. And thoughtful. And not super stinky.”
Now, here we are, exactly 16 years, 8 months, and 16 days later. Let me just tell you… the Lord listened. Without going into all the details about how amazing my son is (because that would just be bragging:) I will just say that I cannot possibly imagine what my life would be like without the sounds of his piano practice filling up our house. Without witnessing his kindness to ALL kids. Without hearing his laugh everyday. Without the sweet little nickname he calls his sister. Without our talks about school, friends, college, and politics. I’m not saying we haven’t been through the ringer with this kid. His toddler years almost sent me to the nut house. Or prison (it’s a toss up.) But his heart? Oh my. There isn’t a more earnest soul on this earth. He is considerate of others. He wants to be… do… his best. And the cherry on top? The boy actually keeps his room clean.
By chance, Michael and I were headed to Maui (truly crazy coincidence; our love affair with Hawaii diddn’t start for another decade) the day after we learned I was pregnant. So, technically, we went on a ‘babymoon”. Like most other newly pregnant moms, I devoured the What To Expect When You’re Expecting book during that trip. While lying on a beach in Waimea, I learned that a baby’s heart starts beating around the 5th week, 3rd day ON the 5th week, 3rd day of my pregnancy. I couldn’t help but think about how that little tiny heart that had just started beating might continue, without stopping, for hopefully another 70 or 80 years. Where would that heart go? What would it become? These thoughts made me feel really small and yet really significant all at once.
That little heart that started beating on an island in the Pacific celebrated 16 years of life outside my womb today. It celebrated with a lobster dinner (fyi… he’s gonna need a good job as an adult because he does have quite the penchant for the finer things in life) coincidentally on another Hawaiian island in the Pacific, not far from where it started beating. And I thanked God today for giving me this amazing young man. It turns out, he was exactly what I wanted.
Happy Birthday Dan. Just in case you weren’t sure, your mother loves you very, very, very much!