I remember your mom texted me while she was at work the day you were born. She’s a labor and delivery nurse, of course, and she was working in the hospital where you were to be delivered, so I guess if she had to be working when she went into labor that was the best possible place to be, but still, it was pleasantly quirky and remains a fun story that I sometimes think about telling people when I’m mingling at my numerous imaginary social gatherings.
“Want to hear a fun story?” I imagine myself saying to a group of nattily attired movers and shakers.
They all nod their heads and lean in expectantly, probably because I have already charmed them with numerous exciting tales throughout the evening while we were sipping on alcoholic beverages (white wine for the ladies, Scotch on the rocks for the gents) and touching each other’s elbows conspiratorially.
“Get this. My wife was working the day my second child was born. Out of the blue, she texted me something mundane like, ‘So, I guess I’m going to have the baby now.’ She’s so droll.”
My adoring public gasps in astonishment. A wave of murmurs ripples through our little circle. I wait another moment to let the tension grow. To leave them wondering if I’m going to continue or if that’s the end.
“OK. OK,” I throw up my hands and smile wide. “She was a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital, so all she had to do was clock out. But still…”
The conclusion to my story is met with relieved and raucous laughter. The small group hefts me onto their shoulders and carries me like a Super Bowl winning quarterback toward the bar so I can buy the next round. Gin and tonics for everyone!
Since the moment of your somewhat surprise arrival on earth, you haven’t stopped amazing me. Well, I don’t remember if you amazed me that much during the first year or so. You mostly just sat there. Or, rather, laid there for many months and then sat there. Did you know babies can’t even sit up until they’re six months old or older? Who knew?
It’s crazy how, for me at least, as time passes, those first months and years fade from my memory. Like the tide receding from the shore. One minute there’s this baby lying around that pretty much dictates your every waking moment and then, seemingly in a flash, he’s crawling, walking, talking and going to school. With each progression, the phase before slides away and it begins to feel like things have always been the way they are. Sometimes, I look back at old pictures of you as a baby or toddler and I barely remember the chubby-faced person with long curly hair staring back at me.
Instead, it’s the sturdy little boy with a fresh, new grown-up haircut that greets me in the middle of the night that sticks in my brain. Like this was who you always were and always will be. You rub your sleepy eyes with your little hands as you climb onto the couch in the living room with your blanket. You are tired, but not so tired that you can’t give me clear directions about what is supposed to happen next.
“Carry me,” you demand.
I carry you back upstairs and we rock until you’re back to sleep. Yes, we still rock. Even after all these years. Sometimes I fall asleep in the chair with you and we stay that way for several hours or until the morning light starts to sneak through the slits in between the blinds covering the window. Sometimes I manage to stay awake long enough to transfer you back to your bed. Sometimes I sleep next to you, curled up at the foot of your race car bed like a decorative hood ornament. Four years in, we’re still very closely connected at a physical level day and night.
A few months ago, you started preschool and took to it with amazing effortlessness. There was a moment’s hesitation on the first day, but that was it. You make it look so easy. It’s almost like you’ve been doing it for years. Perhaps you have. You told us for many months prior that you were attending school, but we never quite believed you. Mainly because you never left the house without us as far as we could tell.
Regardless, you’ve come a long way in four short (or long?) years. And even though we’ve had our battles and disagreements, and continue to have battles and disagreements every day, I’m so grateful for the boy you’ve become. You brighten my days (and lengthen my nights) and your kindness and heart makes me strive to be a better person.
I probably won’t remember too much about who you were as the years go by because I’ll be too busy appreciating who you’ve become, but it’s nice to pause to take a snapshot as we prepare to celebrate your big day. Now, it’s about time for me to walk up to your school to pick you up. It’s always a highlight of my day. I love watching you race along in front of me on your little balance bike as I push your sister in the stroller. Your feet push against the ground as your legs pump back and forth. From the side, you look a little like the guy riding that weird piece of fitness equipment—the Gazelle, maybe?
You run fast to build up speed, lift your feet, and glide for what seems like miles along our neighborhood sidewalks.
I watch as you race ahead, passing from sunlight to shade and back again as you coast along under the big oak trees. Soaring toward a limitless future.