Today would have been my mom’s 67th birthday. That’s her in the photo above, holding me as a baby. She’s been gone five years now, and her sudden loss still haunts me from time to time. Especially lately, I’ve been thinking of her.
I was one of those people who, for the longest time, insisted that I would never have children. No. Nope. Not for me. It just wasn’t in the cards. But sometime in the last few years, that all changed. My outlook changed. I grew as a person, as I always strive to, and this time I grew into someone who wanted to take that big step in life. It’s not for everyone, and there’s no set time to do it. For me, in this life, it was time.
I insisted I would remain childless most loudly to my mom, always. It’s funny, because she was never the type to drop hints or urge me to have kids. Every once in a great while, she’d ask if I was thinking about it, when I’d been in a relationship for a year or two, but that was it. Other relatives asked, but my mom always respected my decisions and gave me the benefit of the doubt, even when she probably knew better with her perspective.
The moment I decided that I wanted to be a dad, I thought about telling my mom. I have this thought every time something significant happens in life. It’s a gut reaction that happens in microseconds, before I consciously think. “Call up mom and tell her the good news” must be an instinctual feeling, because it never goes away. This time, that thought was followed by, she was right again. She knew I’d be a dad some day.
I remembered the time I was 9 years old and insisted that I’d never wear jeans again in my life. At the time, about 1992, in West Michigan at least, jeans were not cool for boys my age. Black pants, grey slacks, dark anything, and especially those stretchy MC Hammer pants were in. Blue jeans were out. Thus ensued the one time my mom showed her doubt in my resolution. She smiled and said okay, go ahead and sign this paper here saying that you will never wear jeans for the rest of your life. In my prepubescent hubris, I signed immediately. With a smirk on my face. I’d show her.
Of course, years later when she suddenly remembered that paper, I denied having signed anything. I laughed and told her, no way I’d do something so silly! I was a teenager and could never admit that I knew full well that I’d been so shortsighted.
When my son was born, I just thought about that moment of denial, and how she must have laughed inside, knowing that I knew, without giving it away. She was so kind, even to the immature feelings of a too-proud teenage boy. I just wanted to be able to say hey mom, here’s your grandson. He’s here and he’s beautiful and I want you to be the first person to hold him. You’ve been an amazing grandma to my sister’s boys and I know you’ll be just as brilliant with my own son. You loved and raised your children so well, I know you’ll always be there when I need advice for my own child.
I can’t say that to her, but I certainly think it often. I also think often about how proud she’d be of me, and more importantly, how much she’d love my partner in this whole parenting business.
While I could dwell on how much I miss my mother, at this bright, optimistic time in my life, with a newborn son, I’m just happy that I can say my child’s mother will be just as wonderful. Kaitlyn is a beautiful woman inside and out, the most caring and thoughtful person I know. She pours her heart into her relationships and she feels everything so deeply, so powerfully. Her empathy is astounding. She cries for strangers, for animals, and most especially for those she loves. She shares their joy and pain and everything in between. Her love for our son is limitless, an energy I feel growing every day.
I’m so lucky to be with her and luckier still to be raising a child with her. We’re a great team, because I know she’ll always be there and I’ll always be there for her. It’s so necessary to feel hope for the future when you’ve got a new child, and I’ve got it in abundance, largely thanks to her.
If my own mom could read this, she’d probably nod and say, I told you so.