My son is turning 17 tomorrow. Funny, I don't call him "my baby" the way my mother still refers to me. I was the third of three. Her last. He's my second of two, and yes, my last child, but that still doesn't make him my baby. Maybe because he never seemed that. He was due on Cinco de Mayo and surprised me on April 16th. I still had last month pregnancy questions for my ob/gyn after the delivery. Early, not everything totally worked yet. He ended up back under lights 24/7 for several days to bring down the toxic billyrubin. I had a newborn but I didn't. Visiting him in the hospital, then eating out at a restaurant with John. It was sad, but it was so much less than the others were struggling with on the ward. He came home fine, able to nurse, just a wee on the cranky side for a baby. Relocating to Maine for 2 months when he was that age himself, one of us had to spend the daylight hours inside with him. He couldn't take the elements. He was a baby you couldn't over stimulate. We had to let him lie still, and just watch. Just settle. Not a big smiler, but adorable still. And big. As he grew, the NYC firemen I used to run into at the Jefferson Market loved to count the rings on his chubby thighs and arms. When I'm nostalgic I go more quickly to the toddler years. He had curly blonde hair and was irrepressible. Running joyfully trying to keep up with his 3 year older athletic sister. A truly adorable toddler. And not easy to handle. No easy library reading programs for me. He was a little wild but clearly an old soul. It was obvious. As was his compassion, particularly for babies smaller than he.
On his 5th birthday for some reason he calmed down and became incredibly focused. Still a lively happy active boy, but able to handle school well. By 6, he could subtract time backwards. Mostly to complain about my lateness. And so he's grown, year after year. Always wise. Always delightful. Really great company. A kid who seems to know who he is at the core. He can have fun. But he can also be patient when the fun's not readily apparent. Except for the allergy genes we like to blame on my mother, he lucked out with a great mix in the DNA crapshoot. On our kids' birthdays, we moms can't help but think about what our kids have given us. How they've made us more than we were before. The gift of motherhood. The gift of their company. Love given, and love received. My heart is swollen with pride and gratitude for this young man, I get to call my son.