Eleven years ago, I had it all figured out. I sat in my recliner, bulging belly occasionally tensing, and all was well. I’d sit and chat with my mother-in-law, taking the occasional moment to glance at the clock and assess the strength of a contraction.
Not too close, not too strong. Plenty of time.
Maybe later, we’d go to the mall, just in case that baby had any notion of staying put. The husband had an exam at four. He could meet us at the hospital, because surely, all that mall-walking would convince our second born to make his appearance. We’d have a lovely evening in the maternity ward, pushing and crying and laughing and striving to meet our baby face to face. I called the obstetrician.
Wait. Wait till the contractions are stronger and five minutes apart.
But children have their own ideas of time. At last count, the contractions were seven minutes apart. But I was puking, and so it was time to go.
And he came, quickly and beautifully, into this world and into our arms. He’d long been in our hearts.
Still he comes quickly and beautifully, sometimes with such powerful emotions that neither he nor I know quite what to do with ourselves. He’s shown me strengths and weaknesses I didn’t know I had. He stood by my side, persuaded that I do indeed have the power to persevere through youtube tutorials on origami elephants, and then he filled his dresser with an entire army of origami rabbits. Day by day, he’s teaching me I don’t have it all figured out, never did, and that’s okay because parenting is an act of faith, and sometimes, wonderful things come when we least expect them.
A morning hug. A quiet hour of drawing dragons so vibrant I want to hop on their backs and fly away. A clever, funny children’s book on 8×11 printer paper that he hopes will get published someday. A backyard fort that stands through winter and into spring. Schoolwork done quickly and neatly. (Yes, at this I marvel!) An unloaded dishwasher. (This too!) A rare gentleness with animals. An evening heart-to-heart, snuggled beneath a mountain of fuzzy blankets across the room from the guinea pigs that have survived almost a full year already.
Sometimes I look at this kid who upset all our plans that glorious Wednesday, and I wonder…
How did something so wildly unique and wondrously beautiful come out of me?
But there he sits with messy hair and big green eyes, and a line inspired by my sister that made its way into my first novel comes to mind:
This is love, my girl, beautiful and illogical, wild and free.
Yeah, that’s my kid. Love in tattered gray pants he’ll only change under duress and a shirt so stained it’ll never look clean.
I’m kind of glad I don’t have it – or him – all figured out.