Marking a Decade

Ten years ago today I was waddling around the high school where I taught, scooping up good-bye cards and well wishes. I felt more energized than I had in weeks and I was looking forward to the few days before Big Sprout was due to arrive. I was relieved I had not had a water-breaking incident in front of a class of sophomores…I would have been mortified, but I am fairly certain it would have been more traumatizing for them. Early the next morning…7:30 am…I got up to go to the bathroom, and as I stood up out of bed I thanked God for the puddle that had waited to pool at my feet until I was in my own home.

Baby bag…check.  Overnight bag…check. Towels…check.  Husband…check. Off to the hospital. The delivery was a story all unto itself, but we survived.  I finally got to hold him, I mean really hold him, two hours after he was born and after I was all stapled back together.  I’ll never forget how that felt and how overwhelmed my heart was.  I had no idea, that it would only continue to swell over the next ten years.

That’s right!  Our firstborn turns ten tomorrow, and this is by far the hardest birthday I have been a part of in my life.  It is always those birthdays that end in zero that are supposed to give us pause.  I remember my monumental 10th birthday, I looked around briefly when I turned 20 because that is just about how much time I had to look, and when I turned 30, I was pregnant with our third and I definitely knew I was at a monumental year, but I didn’t have a lot of energy for birthday introspection.  Maybe I’ll give it a whirl when I turn 40…but for now, it is the big guy’s zero-ending birthday that has brought me to tears all week.

I can’t help but to go over in my head how he has changed in the last ten years, but what really gets to me is when I calculate the ways I’ve changed.

Ten years ago:
I didn’t know how to file a baby’s fingernails…
I didn’t know how scary it would be to have a sick kid…
I didn’t know how to change an explosion diaper on the front seat of a truck…
I didn’t know how hard it would be to let a baby cry it out when he was old enough…
I didn’t know how happy I could be when a toddler’s hand rubbed my belly feeling for a new baby to kick…
I didn’t know that I could smile that big watching him fish with his dad…
I didn’t know there could be a kinder and gentler big brother in the entire world.
and I didn’t know that I could love someone this much.

I also didn’t know that I would get to his tenth birthday and start grieving what is going to happen in the next decade.  I have spent a lot of energy and time, these past ten years,  learning how to let him grow.  Making sure he started to gain weight, teaching him to apologize when he did something wrong, letting him talk out his conflicts with other kids, letting him fall: on his skates, off his bike, sliding into home. Letting him face real consequences for bad decisions. Although I am not perfect, I do think I have learned pretty well how to best  let him grow…but the next decade I will have to learn how it is that I can best let him go.  That just makes me cry.  By the time we celebrate his next zero-ending birthday he will have had his first date, his first kiss, his first solo drive in a car, his high school diploma, and he’ll have college squarely on his mind.  That and so many other experiences that I can not yet predict will be how life goes in the next decade.  As we trudge through the coming years, more and more, the life that he leads will be away from me, and that is what makes me sad.

It is the way it should be, and standing here in the middle of the see-saw looking at how perfectly balanced I feel between what he has already done and what he is poised to do, I hope the walk down that other side  is slow enough that I can enjoy it, just a little.  He is a light in our lives and a presence I can hardly imagine being without.  I suppose I’ll feel more ready when we actually are at that next zero-ending birthday, but if not…it’s gonna’ hurt like hell.  I’m so proud of this decade’s worth of work, and I am steeling myself for the even harder years to come.

Happy Tenth Birthday Big Sprout!!

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