Soaking in the tub, timing contractions, my enormous belly an island jutting out of the water. I loved every day of my pregnancy, and even though it’s selfish, I admit it was sad seeing it come to an end because that meant I had to share you.
Later, sitting backwards on a chair in the living room, Dad shoving his fist into my lower back as hard as he could still didn’t alleviate the pain.
A day of horrendous back labor, three hours of pushing, and an emergency c-section later, you finally joined our family. From day one, you were the blonde angel who could do no wrong. Easy going, agreeable, adorable. You were the first, remain the only boy, and have the entire family wrapped around your finger, the way The First does.
Nursery school, preschool, your love of learning was clear from the beginning. First year of kindergarten under your belt, the proud recipient of the Principal’s Award. I knew how proud you were; as I sat in that hotbox of a gym, watching as you stood to accept the award, the pride in your eyes betrayed the stoic look on your face.
Extremely intelligent, logical, and analytical–always have been. Rational, rarely acting before you think (then think some more), I sometimes joke that you’re smarter than I am, and often worry that you’re missing out on fun as you crunch numbers and weigh your options.
Then you erupt into giggles or use a banana for a microphone and it’s then I realize you’re not missing out; you were just born a smaller version of Dad. Business first, fun later, and enjoying every second of it all.
You met new kinds of challenges this year in school, and although we all struggled with how to handle the things out of our control, we prayed together and assured you: “Sometimes you’ve just got to suck it up.” What you didn’t know is all I wanted to do was gently place you back inside my uterus where you were safe and no one but me could get to you.
Motherhood makes a lady go crazy, okay?
Watching you sort through and figure out new emotions and experiences was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done because all I could do was watch. I fought the overwhelming urge to solve alllllll the problems, and tried reminding myself it wasn’t personal when you took a bad day out on me. You may love hanging out with Dad, but you only reach for me when in need, even when that need is to explode at the height of stress and confusion and fear and embarrassment. Even when that need is lashing out even though what you really want is a hug. After nightmares, when you’re tired, when you’re sick–you want me. It’s hard, isn’t it? Being so close to someone, showing them your very best and your very worst, needing them more than anything, especially when you feel you don’t deserve them. I know. I feel that way about us, too.
Soccer, baseball, hockey, golf–you’ve yet to meet a sport you don’t like. Friends, iPads, birthday parties, knocks at the door are now for you, and I catch myself wanting to yell, “HE’S JUST A BABY! HE CAN’T PLAY OUTSIDE WITHOUT HIS SUN HAT AND MOMMY!”
I said crazy, right?
You’re madly in love with your baby sister, have a love/hate relationship with your younger sister, and absolutely head over heels for Dad. There must be a magic potion fathers give to sons because you rarely pull the kind of crap with Dad that you pull with me! No back talk, seldom a NO!, and a willingness–no, it’s more than that, an eagerness–to be with him. Pulling weeds and cleaning out the garage are the most exciting things on earth when done side-by-side with Dad. That’s a special relationship and I hope you two always share it.
I’m sure it’s not easy being 7. There’s a constant push and pull between little and big kid. Do I want my Mommy or do I want space? Do I need a hug or should I shake it off? I can pour my own milk, but I can’t cross the street by myself. 7 is a hard age for me and Dad, too. A stage of independence that requires close yet inconspicuous monitoring; I, too, am torn between being held at arm’s length and having those same arms wrapped around me so tight I can barely breathe. But it’s worth every bit of oxygen so don’t ever let go.
I’ll give 7 the space you need because that’s how you grow. I’ll remind myself the ultimate goal of parenting is to raise children into kind contributors to this world who have to fail a few times. 7 is exciting and bittersweet and promising. 7 is affectionate when no one is watching. 7 is 8 years since I carried you, a lifetime since I’ve loved you. 7 is and remains our little guinea pig–we’ve never done any of this until now! Bet you never thought of it that way, huh? Mom and Dad don’t have a clue what we’re doing! We’re raising you by trial and error, what we hope is right, and a whole bunch of faith. We’re all learning together, making mistakes together, forgiving one another together.
Thank you for letting us practice on you. God knew what he was doing when He gave us you first: your patient understanding is years beyond your mere 7 on this earth.