TWENTY EIGHT YEARS AGO, A CHILD WAS BORN

Posted on 25 August 2006

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELDEST SON

Twenty eight years ago, I became a mother. I would not have said that I was mother material. I did not idealize babies. I never went soft and mushy around infants. I hadn’t dreamed of holding a child of my own – a concrete expression of my love for another. Being the second child of six, I knew babies were time-consuming and demanding.

And yet, when we decided to have a child, when that child materialized, I found myself loving him beyond reason. Rob too loved being a parent. We used to say that if we were suddenly millionaires, we would have a dozen.

And yet, our first son was not easy. Every morning when I fed him, I learned to hold him at the side of the bed so he could projectile vomit across the room. He never slept when I needed him to sleep. I would often lie beside his crib and try to lull him away with soft words. Often, we both ended up in tears of frustration. When he started to crawl, he went backwards. One day, he just stood up and walked. This has always been his way. It’s as if he does all his learning inside his head and when he’s perfected whatever, he gives it outward expression.

And yet, he was the most accident prone of all our children. He became so used to the Emergency room that, on the way, while I cried, he would ask if he could have cake from the vending machine.

When he started school, one teacher telephoned me and demanded an interview. She didn’t know what to do with my child. He never competed with others. Indeed, he never tried to better his best. At the end of the year, she said that he would be an independent happy adult.

Throughout his school years, he did what he wanted irrespective of what was demanded of him. If he liked a teacher, he worked. If he didn’t, he skipped class. (Interesting that his opinion of teachers was often mine.)

He loved theatre classes. One day he returned from school, threw his fist in the air, after telling me that he had won an acting award, and yelled “I’m great.” I stood in awe of him – not because he had won an award but because he could feel so good about himself and express it.

Today he is twenty eight. It is difficult to write about him because he is a very private individual. He never chit chats. He has grown tall – much taller than we expected a child of ours could grow. He is thin – too thin, I sometimes think. He is neat, precise, in dress and manner. Sometimes we have long sensitive creative conversations. At other times, I feel a wall and don’t know what to say to him. He appears less concerned about the good opinion of others than anyone I know though as I write this, I think he may have a match in his father.

I can’t believe I once dressed him in a sailor suit. It must be because Rob once wore one.

Rob in Sailor suit046

And so I sit on the day of his birth, thinking about this son, how he has changed, how he has challenged and changed me. I love him and wish him happiness.


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