Ethan, Age 7
Last night, as I kissed the kids goodnight, I eyed the clock. "I had been in labor with you for seventeen hours by now," I announced to Ethan as he pecked my cheek (we are no longer permitted a smootch on the lips. Apparently, that is "just wrong".). He didn't seem impressed by my long-labor update. For emphasis, I told him that he hadn't been born until the next morning.
"Dude." He replied, low and long, as though he somehow understood what that day meant to me.
It was the day I became a mother. It was the day that a part of my identity disappeared, and a new one emerged, tender and raw, from that pregnant cocoon. It was the day that, without even saying goodbye, that naiive young woman I once was slipped out of the door, and walked down the hospital corridor, never to return. That day opened a chapter of one of the most trying times in my life, punctuated with breastfeeding challenges, a year and a half of severe post partum depression, and the early hints that our first born son would face a life of difficulties because of his complicated nervous system.
That was fourteen years ago for me (though it seems like oh-so-much less); for him it was a lifetime ago. When I was fourteen I thought of myself as fully formed. And in a lot of ways I was. My heart and temperament have not changed much since then. I look at Ethan now and can see both the little boy he once was and the man he will someday become, all crammed into a swiftly sprouting 14 year old frame.
Ethan is so smart and talented. So impulsive. So emotional. So complex.
I only have a few years left with this young man before he steps out into the world on his own. There is not much time to teach him all that he needs to know. I guess instead of not wanting him to make any mistakes, I should pray for them - the kind of simple, not-too-scary mistakes that teach fabulous grown-up life lessons at a kid price. But I am sure they will come all on their own, so I am not praying for them. Growing up is plenty hard enough, thank you. And we are just at the beginning of doing teenagers.