I spent most of my adult life childless, by design. I was married young (25 yrs) and my husband and I spent our time working hard and playing harder. I was a professional woman who had no desire to be saddled with kids. Seated in my Business Class seat on a work trip, I was the one who glared at the loud family corralling their unruly, snot-nosed kids into the bulkhead row. In Business Class! How dare they? They were undoubtedly going to some God forsaken location like DisneyWorld or LegoLand or some such place I was thrilled to know absolutely nothing about.
After 13 years of traveling the world and basically doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted to, the most dreadful thing happened. Our friends started having kids. We watched closely to see how their lives would be ruined by this unfortunate turn of events. You can imagine our shock when most of them seemingly survived. They still went out to nice restaurants, on interesting vacations, took mini-trips as a couple. It didn’t look that painful after all.
I attribute this phenomenon to the fact that they all decided to have kids later in life. Most of them were over 35. They had spent time as a couple traveling, exploring, and living their lives with reckless abandon. As a result, they didn’t feel like they were going to miss out on something by becoming parents. I believe it made a huge difference in the way their kids assimilated into their lives. Their existence was altered, but not turned upside down. Please do not take this to mean that I believe everyone should have kids later; I really don’t care. This is simply my take on what we observed amongst our circle of friends and ultimately what I believe was a positive in our personal situation.
As I watched and analyzed, I realized that perhaps we should give it a try. With the mutual understanding that we would “see what happened” and “not go to any great lengths to make it happen if it wasn’t happening,” we gave it a try. Lo and behold, it worked. FAST! I fully understand how fortunate we are to have been this lucky, really I do.
Once the initial shock wore off, utter terror set in, at least on my part. I am an only child (so is my husband, how screwed up is that?) and I never even babysat much in high school. My baby knowledge simply didn’t exist. I knew two things for sure: 1) while it was “incubating” in my belly surely it was claustrophobic (like I am) and spending its days, hot, sweaty and trying to claw its way out of Hell. And 2) when it arrived, I would most certainly drop it on the kitchen floor, down the stairs, on the sidewalk, or all of the above.
Since I was 38, we did every test imaginable to make sure things were ok. When the nurse called me to tell me that the results were great and everything was ok, she delivered the kicker. “It’s a boy.” I immediately said “Oh, I’m sorry you must have the wrong file. Please check again.” Nope. It was a boy. I knew less about BOYS than I did about babies! I was screwed. I hung up the phone and cried for hours. Convinced of course that my hysteria was making the hot, sweaty little thing even more claustrophobic.
Fast forward through months of drama and I was holding my little boy in the delivery room. Hell yes I was scared, not because I thought I would drop him, but because I hated the thought of not being able to protect him from EVERY bad thing in life. This was a game changer for me. Love became True Love – and I became a parent.
Which leads me to today. My son is 7 ½ years old. He is healthy, smart, funny, compassionate, handsome, a great athlete, a master manipulator, a drama king, and the list goes on. But what he was today was a little boy who woke up in the middle of the night with a sore throat. Sitting next to him in the dark watching him sleep, hearing his breath, watching a sweet smile emerge as he reached out to hug his stuffed tiger closer to his chest…….these are things I would have never imagined would matter to me.
When he asked for a popsicle at 9am because his throat hurt and I immediately said yes, the twinkle in his eye knowing he was doing something sort of naughty with my approval made me smile.
Curled up on the couch, I asked him what he wanted to watch on TV and he said “Game 7 of the 2012 World Series.” I take great pride that he is an SF Giants fan to the core, just like me!
While I was slowly wiping his forehead with a cool washcloth and he opened his beautiful blue eyes and said “Thanks for taking care of me, Mom,” I thought my heart would break in half.
In the end, the only thing I know for sure is that I have 7½ years of experience as a parent. I know nothing more, nothing less. I’ve been great at some things and terrible at others. The night ahead will be a long one, with fevers and sore throats to tend to. But I tell ya, there is no place I’d rather be and nobody is more surprised by that than me.