Saturday, May 10, 2014

My son

On the day you become a mother, you go through pain, sweat, tears and joy...lots of joy.  You are handed this tiny person you'd felt growing within you and couldn't wait to meet. Your body is forever changed, as are you. Nothing compares to the feeling when the nurse places this little being, wrapped like a burrito, into your arms. You are taught the basics of nursing or bottle feeding, how to swaddle and care for your baby and your myriad of questions are patiently answered. Upon leaving the hospital, you are handed a welcome bag with coupons, samples of formula, diapers and worry... yes, worry.  While the nurses don't hand you that, you definitely walk out the door with it.  How will you care for this baby, keep him or her safe, feed them enough, keep them warm or cool, dry and happy?  Will you sleep ever again?

Almost 21 years ago, I became the mother of two.  I'd passed the muster with my first. He was still alive through all the mistakes I'd made. I never worried if I could love another child as much as my first,
yet I still had worries.  No one said life with children would be easy. Giving birth to each of them, while toted as 'the best days of my life' also ring true with the statements... he/she almost killed me! You worry about weight gain and growth charts, rashes and teething and you say.. This to shall pass.

From the beginning, my boys were like night and day.  Patrick was my quiet baby, who watched the world around him. Blonde hair, blue eyes, chubby as all get out. He was a thinker, spoke early and didn't walk until he was almost 15 months old.

Sam was born stubborn, and fearless. He was a big baby, 9 lbs 7 oz, 22" long.  The nurses came into my room commenting that he was already smiling and lifting his head. (Sam was 12 days past his due date the day he was born, and the doctors suspected that he was a surviving twin after a 'miscarriage' early on in my pregnancy.   That January, he was still there, so my dates were confused… I believe anyway…so in essence, he was a month old at birth!) He hung on until we basically evicted him from my womb!

Unlike Patrick, Sam had fiery red hair that went from sticking straight up at birth to the most adorable curls by the time he was 7 months old and he had a temper. He walked early, climbed onto everything and embraced the world as his own.  If he wanted something he was bent on getting it. Before he could speak he vented his frustration by banging his forehead on the floor.  At the age of 2 I'd said no to a trip to McDonald's when he wanted french fries for a snack. I caught him just as he and his cozy coup were hitting the bottom of the driveway on his way to McDonalds, 3 pennies tucked into his pocket.  The day his little sister was born his nurturing caring side blossomed. Sam took one look at her and he claimed her as his own, he called her 'his baby' and fiercely protected her. His kindergarten teacher and many teachers to follow commented on his caring nature at each parent teacher conference.

Through the years I worried over the normal little things. They turned into toddlers and I worried excessively over the mile stones of crawling, sitting up, gaining weight, or not gaining weight and of talking. As a parent, you are excited about their ability to walk, talk dress and undress and then when the running starts, the talking is inappropriate or excessive or they change 17 times a day into different outfits.. you wonder why you ever encouraged them to do such things in the first place! and you utter many times over... "This too shall pass.".. and sometimes it is said through gritted teeth.

Grade school happened and I worried more about what was said on the bus... and they do pick up new words and phrases on that big yellow vehicle! When their father died, I worried for two.  I stressed over friends they chose, parties they may or may not have been invited to, reading ability/levels, writing, spelling and math, stranger danger, sports teams they may or may not have made, and outside influences... and then they hit puberty. As always my mantra "This too shall pass". 

Worries turned to those faced by teens, acne (will it scar), dances and dates, school work overload, stresses, first jobs, driving and how to get them to not only do chores but go to church with you! They stay up late and sleep in on the weekends, they eat you out of house and home and they express their opinions, freely and sometimes loudly... usually thinking yours are either archaic or just plain wrong.

This weekend is the perfect time for me to start this phase of the blog. As a mother of young adults I still worry. I worry about Patrick, who is now living and working in NYC. The knock out game that has been reportedly played near where Patrick resides has given me a slew of new gray hairs on my head.  I worry over Meredith living and attending school across the pond in Northern England. Thank goodness for Skype!  I worried when Sam went off to college in Boston and then decided college was not for him  and chose to work instead.

Yet nothing has prepared me to worry as much as I have when the words "Mom, I am joining the Army" tumbled out of my 2nd son. I immediately went into fear mode...fear of the unknown.. will he be alright, safe, have enough to eat (for anyone that knows him, he is the pickiest eater!) and the worst...where in the world will they send him? How far from me will my child be? While he can be fearless, he is the type of child that I found couldn't hurt anyone... yet, in this role he may be put into that circumstance... what will that mean for my son? My stubborn, caring, loving red headed child will become a soldier.  And as his mother, I worry terribly and have cried.. a lot. I still see him as that little guy running off to play.

Don't get me wrong... I am most grateful to the men and women who put their lives on the line for our freedoms that we enjoy... but as Sam's mother, I feel a bit selfish in not wanting my son to be one of those people and while I have cried tears of worry on my quiet rides to and from work, I am proud of him. I will support his decision to become a solider for the United States of America.  I will, because that is what mom's do… we love unconditionally, we support without fail and yes, we worry.