Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Young Jedi Knight Turns 11.


Yucaree's new baby, and Ethan's 11th birthday today got me thinking.

How is it possible that I have been a mom for eleven. freaking. years?

How is it possible that I, with all my attendant issues, have managed to raise such a decent, loving, and enlightened child?

Eleven years ago, Ethan showed up 6 weeks early. I was chronologically 26, but I was just a baby myself, really. And a total rube as far as children went.

Frankly, I got pregnant on purpose to keep his dad from breaking up with me.

Oh yes I did. I was that girl. And I am that fertile.

And the story played out as expected. He married me (pregnant! white! wedding!) and managed to stick around until Ethan was 7 months old before cheating on me and leaving.

At the time, that felt like THE narrative. What a mess.

Yet it turns out it was only a subplot.

The real story involves Ethan and me. And the ways we've affected each other.

It started out rocky, with a beautiful little peach-fuzzy baby on a terrifying monitor 24 hours a day that would sound an alarm if he stopped breathing. I had to learn infant CPR just in case. He was on a caffeine syrup that was supposed to keep his respiratory system stimulated and help to prevent SIDS, but what it really did was make him cry and keep him from sleeping. Until that horrible Christmas Eve when he cried for TWELVE HOURS STRAIGHT and I just sat in my poufy green Lazy Boy rocking recliner the entire time, rocking, rocking, rocking, and glancing up at the clock, and nearly lost my marbles. So I took him off the syrup and he slept through the night and every night after that. He was so grateful for the gift of sleep.

I was grateful to have learned to trust my instinct.

This is only one of the many gifts my sweet boy has given me through the years.

And we're still pretty near the beginning of the story! He's changed so much. He was an early baby and a reluctant walker. But once he got going he never fell. He sang songs before he spoke sentences. To my great chagrin, I could NOT teach him to read. But once we paid someone else to do it, he was suddenly ahead of the curve. It's taken him 4 years at school, but he's finally now speaking pretty fluently in French. It took him forEVER to put his face in the water, but once he did, he started sailing through the swim levels at the Y. This was the first year he would really ride a roller coaster. He always takes his sweet time about things, but once he gets around to doing them, he never falters.


One thing that's never changed about him, though, is his gentleness. Nothing I could do, no mistake I could make, would ever alter his fundamental kindness. He's empathetic in a way that leaves me speechless sometimes. At first, when he was little, I worried for him, forseeing a future where his sensitive spirit would be laughed at and shredded and beaten down by the ugliness that inevitably enters the world of children as they grow. As I've watched him, though, I've been surprised by his inner strength, and the courage of his convictions. He's quite aware of the immaturity and cruelty of which others are capable. He just doesn't allow it to affect him. He is who he is, and he is aware of this. It's breath-taking to witness this in someone so young.

None of this is meant to imply that he's perfect. Sometimes he talks so fast that even I can't understand him. He peppers his conversations with waaaaay too many valley-girl-esque "likes," which is an uncomfortable magnification of my own speech pattern. He's so forgetful that he left the big side door of the van open ALL NIGHT last night, and there was a thunderstorm, and you can guess the rest. He throws his only-worn-once pajamas in the dirty laundry basket no matter HOW MANY TIMES I tell him that unless he rolled around in mud while he was sleeping, he can wear them more than once and thus save me from haveing to do so darn MANY loads of laundry, thank you very much. He won't eat breakfast foods. He runs like a girl.

Minor complaints.

All fade away when I watch him cuddle with Charlotte, or hear from his teacher how he stood up for a nerdy classmate when the others were teasing her.

He's pretty darn pleased with his new Star Wars Clone Wars graphic novels, but I've gotten the WAY better end of the deal.

I think often about the fact of his conception... my deliberate decision to make this baby. It's embarrassing to admit that about myself, certainly. But I don't regret it, in spite of all the ludicrous drama it catalyzed. It feels like my future self, knowing what Ethan would bring to my life, whispered in my 26-year-old messed-up-self's psychic ear, and convinced me to bring him into being.

And I believe the world is a better place for his existence.

5 Comments:

Blogger yucaree said...

oh, grudge girl ... that was just beautiful! it totally warmed my heart; it was like i could feel the love emanating (sp?) from the screen. you should definitely save this post and give it to ethan the day he becomes a dad.

i should be so lucky if the boy turns out as well as ethan.

happy 11th birthday to a gentle-hearted, courageous young man ... i mean, jedi!

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Erica said...

Oooooh! That is the face of a boy who will break hearts in a few years, although he sounds like as though he is so kind and genuine that he will probably let them all down gently.

He sounds like a wonderful boy, and it seems pretty obvious that he gets his strength, his independence, and his empathy from you. You're lucky to have each other. Wish him happy birthday from the internets!

8:47 PM  
Blogger Tracy Lynn said...

GG, that was a beautiful essay on the unexpectedness of consequences.It sounds to me like you and Ethan have a wonderful relationship, the kind most people can only wish for. I'm so happy for you,that your son brings out the best of you and happy for Ethan, that he has someone who appreciates all of his qualities.
Happy B-day, young Jedi!

7:32 AM  
Blogger Marti said...

"I think often about the fact of his conception... my deliberate decision to make this baby. It's embarrassing to admit that about myself, certainly. But I don't regret it, in spite of all the ludicrous drama it catalyzed. It feels like my future self, knowing what Ethan would bring to my life, whispered in my 26-year-old messed-up-self's psychic ear, and convinced me to bring him into being. And I believe the world is a better place for his existence."

I did much the same thing... my son Nik came out of one of the most destructive and crappy relationships I've ever had.

The fact that he's a loving, considerate, well mannered child is amazing. Here's pic of us...
http://www.transadvocate.com/mt/marti/blog/archives/menik.jpg

He never ceases to amaze me.

11:09 AM  
Blogger I Wish I Could Be a Princess said...

That is so sweet. he sounds really special unlike my little freak pet brother my mom insists she didnt adopt.
Sierra

3:09 PM  

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