Sunday, May 13, 2012

My True North

I remember the first time I saw you. I had just come back from surgery and was in my hospital room. This bundle was being passed around that I hadn't seen. Only a face over a curtain who was so mad at entering this world. They took you away as they closed me up and I yelled at the top of my lungs "I told you it was a boy!! Is he okay?" The bundle was quiet and wiggly. Then it was finally my turn. They handed you to me and I was so scared. You see, I'd never held a baby before. I looked into those eyes the first time and I was gone. This was my heart in someone else. This was my love.

Later that night they brought me you with a bottle and a paper towel. You and I did a lot of firsts together. I fed you and laid you on my chest. It was there I noticed that bead of sweat that breaks out across your nose when you are truly sleeping. About 3 am you woke me up. Pounding on my chest with your tiny fists. Trying to raise your head. You've always been in a hurry. The nurse came in and took you from me and I felt so empty without you knocking around inside me. You didn't cry but I did. When I brought you home I slept with my hand on your back in the bassinet beside the bed because I was paranoid you might die. When you went to the crib I made sure you were breathing about 100 times a night. To this day I still do it from time to time.

Your first couple of years were a whirlwind. I didn't know that sitting up at 5 months was quick. I truly didn't know that walking at 7 months was unusual. I didn't know I shouldn't wean you at a year nor potty train you by 18 months. But we were doing what came natural to us. If you could do it, you did and I stood behind you cheering. You gave me chicken pox the second time. You gave me flu that turned to pneumonia. You gave me stomach viruses that should have put me to bed when you were a wild man running through the house giggling. You gave me laughter that I could not suppress even in church. You gave your grandparents a joy you can not even today yet conceive. The first grandchild and great grandchild. You should have been spoiled rotten yet you gave things away that you shouldn't. You came home in your undershirt from daycare because a little boy liked yours. You gave toys to less fortunate kids who lived in our complex. "Mama he didn't have one" was what you said.

I remember us playing rummy on the sofa without keeping score. I remember the video games I didn't understand. I remember the laughter of you and your Uncle John when you killed him over and over again with the golden gun he couldn't find. The Halloween costumes we slaved over. The muscle suit I made and your dad spray painting your new white tennis shoes so they would match. The werewolf who looked so good because you got make up on the sleeve of the shirt and I put it all over to make it match. The science projects that your dad and you made at midnight before they were due. Finding you on the sofa on Sunday morning asleep with the remote in your hands because you had gotten up during the night.

I remember when you shaved the first time and I cried. Your laughter ringing in my ears at 15 because I could hear your Uncle John and see his hands on you. Wrestling matches that I couldn't watch so your dad did play by play. I remember you taking my breath in your tux for prom. I can see the smile on your face when you first held your drivers license and the terror in my heart when you drove away in the dark. I can see the tears in your eyes from your first broken heart. I can see your eyes when I walked into the waiting room at the hospital when your dad collapsed. I can see the heartbreak when we stood together beside his bed. I feel your hand in the small of my back when they opened those doors to the sanctuary on that day and how you held my hand during the service. How you gave me your arm when we walked that isle behind him and the world as we knew it ended and all we had was each other.

These past three years have been so hard for us. But you have been my tower. My refuge. When I could see nothing else I could see you. I see so much of your dad in you now. I see his grit. His determination. I see the boy I fell so deeply in love with that I would face hell to stand beside him. I was married to your dad when he was your age. Strangely, I see my strength. I see my quiet reserve. I still see my heart beating in your chest. I see a man before me who is doing his damnedest to do what is right when it would be so easy to do what is wrong. I see your struggle to be whom you are destined to be. I love your joy and your laughter. Your stories and your jokes. Your keen mind and sharp wit. Your wisdom and your street-smarts. I love your arms when they hold me when I cry. I love you heart that sees others first. Your sense of right and wrong. You firm beliefs even when they don't match mine. Your desire and ability to stand by your convictions. Without a doubt I can say, that the greatest accomplishment of my life, the greatest joy and my greatest honor is that you call me Mom. Thank you for being my true north.