A Letter To My Unborn Son

Dearest Little Owen,

You are due to arrive into this world and our family in only two days. Judging by all of your wild and crazy movement and your attempted early escape four weeks ago, I think you are ready! I may not be a first-time-mom with all the eager overconfidence that makes each pack of diapers and each little outfit an exciting trip down possibilities lane – everything new and unknown and full of potential. But even as an experienced mama, I am nervous and excited to meet you. Whereas the first time around, I was so eager to teach my son everything I could about life, this time I am more eager to learn from you everything you will be able to teach me. I know I have already learned far more as a parent than I ever imagined possible and I am excited to see what new challenges you will bring into my life and the life of our family. I know you will not be a replica of your brother, but with him as my only experience, it is sometimes hard to imagine in what ways you will be different – your own unique person with individual traits and desires, habits and interests, and contributions to all those around you in this journey called life. I selfishly hope that you will look a little more like me, since your brother looks just like his daddy – although you’d be luckier to look like him as well. I hope that you and your brother will be the best of friends and be able to teach each other things that your daddy and I never could. I hope that you will grow to be a generous, caring, responsible, and inspirational man one day. That you will be more apt to listen than to speak. That you will never take others for granted but learn everyday how to meet them where they are in their journey. That you will always know, no matter what, that your daddy and I LOVE you and will be proud of you for the good choices you make, even if they are different from the ones we would choose for you. I hope that you will always be full of wonder and hunger for life and that you will not let the world and its ailments drag you down. I hope that we are able to be good examples for you as you grow, but more than that, I hope that you will surpass us in character and accomplishment as you make your own path. I hope that I can love you as only you deserve to be loved. I have already started and I know that my capacity for this love will only grow as you do. I can promise you that, at times, I will fall short, but I will never give up and I will do my best to be humble and forgiving and I hope that you will do the same for me. My sweet, tiny little man, I hope you have a wonderful birthday. I can’t wait to meet you!

Love, Your Adoring Mama

Advertisements

Love and Wine and Difficult Times

Love born of complete necessity and vulnerability, either your own or someone else’s, is rich and full and robust. If it sounds like I’m describing a really good wine, that might be because in some ways they are quite similar. It is the squishing of the grapes that creates the juice. It is the age worn barrels that enhance the flavor. It is the patience required by time that helps it mature. So it is with love. It is the difficult moments when we feel squished to our limits that new fodder for appreciation and respect and care – the building blocks of love – are born. It is through the wear and tear of stressful times that love develops and learns how to survive outside of the realm of romance. And it is definitely through patience and endurance that love gains it maturity and grows to new depths.

Making Wine Island Capri Bay Naples Grape Gathering Men - Part Page From The Illustrated London News. C1842-1900.

One of my most poignant experiences of this truth occurred after the birth of our first son. I had a difficult and complicated 22-hour labor that turned into an emergency C-section. Giving birth, under normal circumstances, is a harrowing experience, but under these circumstances was nearly unbearable. During the two hours in which I tried to push out my fully crowned baby, I burst many of the blood vessels in my face and most of them in my eyes, leaving very little white visible. When I expressed later to my husband that I was pretty sure I got hemorrhoids in the whole ordeal, he simply said, “I know.” There was a whole collection of people that saw all my business and experienced me at my most wretched and most vulnerable. And to finish it all off, I had major abdominal surgery that made it extremely difficult to move, much less accomplish the basic necessities of myself or my new-born baby. I could not use the bathroom by myself or dress myself. I could not bathe unassisted. I couldn’t lift our new baby or even walk without trying to hold my own abdomen together. I felt like I had lost all dignity, beauty, and respectability. But this was a time that my husband looked at me with AWE. He was so tender and attentive and amazed at what I had been through and accomplished in order to bring our new family into being. Rather than losing respectability, his respect for me multiplied in those days, as did mine for him. The love we had for each other in that time, born of my need and his care, was immense and unmatched. I am both terrified and excited to experience it again in a few months.

Just moments after he was born.

More recently, and somewhat less potently, we experienced another example of this type of love birthed from vulnerability. This past weekend (and on into the week) my whole family caught a terrible stomach bug that had all of us, but perhaps most pathetically my sweet little boy, in need of some extra TLC. Although this is not the first time that this has occurred, it is obviously freshest in my memory. And it is truly amazing how much you can push yourself to manage when your loved ones need you. Being five months pregnant, running on very little sleep at the tail end of the holidays, and suffering from the same bug myself, I found, somewhere deep within me, the ability to continue to get up and care for my baby who could not care for himself. And because of that care, even though he is better now, he has been positively glued to my side in a bittersweet appreciation. I cannot even tell you how many times today he hugged my legs and said, “You are a beautiful mama!” “I love you, Mama!” He feels that same gratitude and respect that we as adults feel in these circumstances and this is how he expresses it. It makes the dire reality of the week we’ve just experienced seem a little less terrible. If only it were easier to see the beauty while still in the struggle. Perhaps the more we remind ourselves of these truths the more we will begin to see them as they are happening, through the pain . . . savoring the harsh tannins as part of the flavor that makes the wine great!

Marking Milestones

Lets face it… the holidays are stressful. They were magical when we were kids. Sometimes, we still catch glimpses of that magic through the eyes of our children or a sense of nostalgia. But, as much as I hate to admit it, the older I get, the more the holidays seem to be about to-do lists and finances, expectations and family drama, and just making it through. By the time we hit New Years, I have so little energy or holiday spirit left that I just want to spend my long weekend clearing up all the Christmas crap and catching up on sleep. But, ironically, this is when we are expected, at the final stage of this seasonal marathon, to stay up all night and party like it’s 1999. Sigh.

As I contemplate the merits of going out versus staying in and try to dredge up the last remnants of good cheer and festive spirits that I possess, I find myself meditating (as I continually remind myself and all of you to do) on the small but meaningful milestones that have occurred during this season of chaos – trying to lift the hazy vale of petty stresses that seems to have settled over my eyes as of late. There are so many more important things than money and schedules and weight gain and chores. And if we’re not careful to mark them we may miss them.

  • This month, my hubby and I celebrated our 5th anniversary.  Five years of marriage and six years together really does feel like a lifetime – not because the time dragged, but because I find it increasingly hard to remember and nearly impossible to imagine what life was/would be like without him. He is my life and I am so grateful for this milestone and the achievement it marks, despite it’s relatively small, quiet celebration in the midst of Christmas travel.
  • This week marked the halfway point of my pregnancy.  Just two weeks after discovering that our little bundle is made of frogs and snails and puppy dog tails, he has begun making his presence known to me by kicking and punching actively every day.  And wildly expanding my girth from week to week.  It is so hard to imagine that – “WHOA-OH we’re halfway there!” And even though sometimes I do feel like I’m livin’ on a prayer, I am amazed at how far we’ve come and eager to see the fruits of my labor (pun most definitely intended.)

  • This month also marked my entry into another decade of my life.  And, I must say, the reality has been severely underwhelming.  For all the dread and angst that I invested leading up to that day, it has not dramatically changed my life or outlook.  But the more I considered this milestone, the more I realized that it’s not how many years you possess, but how much those years contained that matters. If they were full and rich, they were a success.  If they were not as full as I would have liked, than I have ten more years to rectify that before the next decade rolls around.  Guess I better get busy!
  • My son amazes me more and more every day. While constantly increasing his capacity to frustrate, he is also expanding his knowledge and understanding and ability. He is beginning to understand the rules of his world and how to live by them but imagine beyond them.  He may know that there is not really a monster in the shower, but why not create a blue dragon with red eyes to walk by his side and protect him as he checks to make sure.  He may know the names and natures of every single animal in his picture book, but he still pronounces some of them like “pokey-spines” and “flaming-glows.” He may scoff at Mama’s constant need for kisses and hugs or barely acknowledge the showers of little compliments we pay him daily, but I know our philosophy of positive parenting is paying off every time my little boy naturally and without any effort or thought compliments me to make me happy. These are the good times and we can’t let the spoiling nature of presents and late bedtimes and Christmas treats rob us of these memories.

  • I am finally surfacing and remembering that there is a life past Christmas feasts and cookies and splurges, and lately it has taken the form simple, uncomplicated, comfortable foods like spaghetti and vegetable soup, bagels and homemade bread, sandwiches and a classic favorite around here – green beans. It is a welcome relief to be back in the kitchen and cooking healthy food for only 3 (and a half) people.

  • Our Christmas presents were small but lovely reminders of thoughtful love. Mine to Jonathan included things that contributed to his manliness and comfort. Some things he’s mentioned wanting and others he didn’t even know he wanted. A chrome safety razor shaving set, a pipe and good tobacco, a handsome watch, and intriguing reading material.  His to me were special tokens of an effort which I know is difficult for him but at which he succeeded because he knows it’s important to me. A black and white diamond heart necklace, a book of love poems, a fantastically retro kitchen timer, two beautiful sweaters, a scarf set, and a prenatal message. Aiden’s toys reflected his current interests and will help to develop his growing imagination. Who knew Weebles would bring so many hours of creative play! And our gifts to family and friends were large mugs filled with homemade peppermint cocoa mix – made with many hours and much painstaking testing by Aiden and myself. And also, for the kids in our lives, homemade play dough sets with cookie cutters. Aiden proudly proclaimed to everyone who received them, “I made it with Mama!” giving me the best gift of all – knowing my son is learning the value of giving from the heart with work from the hands.

If all of these things don’t make up for the stresses of the holidays, than our focus is in the wrong place. We have to remember that it’s not a cushy bank account that we will cherish at the end of our lives but rather the joy of those we spent our time and money on. Things are replaceable.  People, moments, feelings are not. How we chose to remember these times largely colors how we experience them. I chose to remember well.