January 20, 1989, roughly 10:30 am. Picture me sitting in a room, utterly slobberknocked. My husband has just kissed me on the forehead and gone off to “get some sleep” he said. Get some sleep? What about me? I’ve been awake for twenty-six hours and this is all I get?
Actually, what I got was a 5 pound, 14 ounce package of energy and sweetness that would change my life forever.
The Boy arrived at 10:14 am. I remember seeing his little face for the first time–his eyes wide open, looking right at me. I was shocked by the intensity. A few minutes later a nurse whisked him away, my husband left, and I was alone in an empty room with all this discarded equipment, feeling like I’d just played ten hours of pro football.
Best day of my life.
Fast forward twenty-five years. Zip past the infancy, the toddler-hood, the childhood that flowed into early adolescence without a hiccup. The teen years, years of homeschooling, learning to drive, part-time jobs. Then college, then a first real job. You could pack it all into a two-hour movie. Piece of cake.
Last week my husband and I attended an open house at the place where the Boy works. Throughout the evening, several of his co-workers, including his bosses, took the time to tell us how much they thought of him, how creative he was, what a nice guy he was. All very gratifying, as well as reassuring in today’s job market. Exactly what every parent hopes to hear. At one point, the founder of the company jokingly asked me what I had fed him for breakfast, as though how the Boy turned out had anything to do with me.
And that’s the point. Beyond the love we offered unconditionally, beyond the boundaries we set (and constantly negotiated), who the Boy is now has more to do with who he was when he arrived: eyes wide open, curious, imaginative, tenacious, persistent, and with a sense of humor. He loved music and words and laughing, right from the start.
And we are the better for him, his father and I. He has taught us far more than we ever thought possible to learn.
His bags are packed, he’s leaving for Africa, wearing all his cool clothes.
The music that inspired a wish to go to Africa in the photo above.
*NOTE: I didn’t really. It’s a metaphor. The Super Bowl took place two days later. The 49ers won. But there was much rejoicing in our house, all the same.