Twenty one years ago tonight, I was sleeping at my Mom’s house, waiting in vain to give birth to my second child. For three days in a row I had gone to the local hospital, (close to her house but an hour from mine) to try to induce labor. No luck!
On August 14th I went to sleep, but didn’t think that my baby would be making his appearance any time soon. I spent a restless night, wishing for labor, feeling the aches and pains of late pregnancy, and sitting up with my Mom and her swollen, bee stung hand.
Early in the morning of August 15th, I drove myself to the hospital, but I didn’t feel very hopeful. I got to the maternity ward, waiting for the doctor to try inducing labor again. To my surprise, he told me that labor had already begun (say, what?!), and left me in the tender care of the nursing staff. I called my husband, telling him that there was no hurry. I settled in, with a hearty breakfast, as I recall, to wait for my baby to come out and join us.
I knew that this baby was a boy. I knew that we would name him Matt. I knew that I loved him, and I knew that I was incredibly lucky to have him. But I didn’t know who he would be.
I remember wondering: what color will his eyes be? What color hair will he have? Will he be long, like his older sister? Will he look like me, the way that she did?
I remember thinking, as I thought of the future, what will his voice sound like? What will he love to do? I wonder what favorite foods he will have, what kind of music he’ll like. Will he be fiery and emotional, or calm and serene?
I couldn’t wait to meet him.
What I couldn’t know, as I waited all day and through the night, was how unique he would be. How thoughtful, and smart, and how creative. I couldn’t know how beautiful my son would be, with his huge green eyes and his golden, silky hair. I had no way of predicting that he and I would bond over a love of shrimp and a passion for good books. I didn’t expect his musical talent, his way with words, his uncanny ability to sense the bullshit factor in people around him.
Twenty one years ago, I eagerly awaited my new baby. Like all young mothers, I was thinking of those baby days, those sweet, lovely baby weeks and months. I didn’t think, back then, of the toddler tantrums, the six year old melt-downs, the rigid food preferences of the eight year old. I didn’t think of the sensitivity of the early teens or the moodiness of the later teens.
But then again, I didn’t anticipate the rich conversations that I would have with my young adult son. I didn’t realize how much fun it would be to cook together, or listen to music together. I didn’t know enough to look forward to the young man that my boy has become.
Twenty one years as the mother of a son. Twenty one years to get to know him, to realize the meaning of love. Twenty one years to be impressed and surprised by the person who came into the world that hot summer morning.
Happy Birthday, sweet boy!