You re-routed everything.
I had a plan, a vision and even a back-up plan for the original plan. I had nearly 30 years of experience being in control of making plans. It was the illusion of certainty I worked hard at maintaining. Everything had an order, a purpose and a reason for why it all had to be just so.
I’ll never forget that moment. It was untimely, unforeseen and anything but part of the plan. I was terrified. I was in a state of shock and it took me three pregnancy tests and an actual sonogram to believe you were, in fact on your way. To make matters even more terrifying, the federal program I was overseeing had just been cut. I was about to be pregnant and unemployed. Never the plan of any Type A personality. In case that didn’t make things more unpredictable, I was in a relationship that hadn’t even weathered an entire season yet. Not the order or plan I had envisioned for myself; let alone you.
When I saw you on that screen, you were what I called “my nugget”. Yet, this miniscule nugget had an actual heartbeat. You were breathing life through me when I was having difficulty breathing on my own while digesting the journey you set out for us. You were a force. You pulled me towards you like a force of gravity to levy against the fear of judgment, failure and inadequacy I was suffocated by. The minute I heard your first heartbeat, saw you float against the screen and eventually watched every limb take new shape, I was sucked into everything that was
My vision changed. Suddenly I had no plan and wasn’t as terrified. All of my thoughts were consumed by you. You led me to take risks I would have neve taken. I uprooted from the familiarity of a community, career, support and reputation to fully immerse myself into everything you were leading me to. It didn’t take me long to recognize that you were arriving with intent and a purpose I’m convinced will take me a lifetime to actualize.
Then came our birthday.
Our birthday consisted of another detour from the plan I set in place. You were arriving via emergency c-section whether I liked it or not. Perhaps it was another lesson that I needed to relinquish control and trust that something much greater had taken its place. I still remember when the doctor asked if I was ready. Within seconds, you were facing right above me before being placed in my arms. I stared at you with a sense of wonder and disbelief. I was overcome with gratitude that you made it safely and even thanked the janitor for changing my surgical sheets. I was beaming with pride.
Then you came home.
I’m still baffled by the fact that new mothers are handed a completely dependent infant to care for in less than 48 hours of having major abdominal surgery, but there we were. You were calm and confident in me more than I was in myself. I had a moment of panic less than 24 hours after you returned home. I realized that I was responsible for caring for you and every decision I made from this point forward had tremendous impact on the rest of your life.
Talk about pressure! I couldn’t breathe. I turned to your father and said I had to get some air. I didn’t know where and I couldn’t quite explain why, but all I knew is that I needed to get out. I was still new to the area so I found this spot I had stumbled upon that was a Catholic shrine with a statue of Jesus Christ standing tall with outstretched arms. It was cold and snowing outside. I drove up to the statue and wasn’t quite sure what I intended on doing there. I can assure that this story has provided necessary comic relief through the years. I got out of my car and knelt down in the cold, wet snow in front of Jesus. I sobbed. I didn’t know what to do or say other than to ask that I not mess up your entire life. I needed support and figured if I was going to get it from anyone, He would be the one. Right?
Then I started to pray. I prayed that God would help ease my anxiety. I prayed that I would build a sense of confidence for stepping onto unknown territory for someone I had already grown to love immensely. Most of all I prayed for forgiveness for the inevitable mistakes I would make and the ability to show up for you despite them.
I returned home and you were sleeping comfortably in your bassinet. I walked over to you and it was as if the cloud had miraculously lifted. You looked up at me with a sense of calm, comfort and an invitation to find peace in your arms so I took it.
My anxiety lifted after that. What I have learned about having you as my first-born is that you hold a special place in my heart because everything I’ve done started with you. The nighttime routines, the breastfeeding, the walks, teething, sleeping, bath time, cooing, hitching, your first word, crawling, sitting up, walking, the first holiday, the first birthday and the first time you separated yourself from me. I learned so much about myself as a woman because of what you set out to teach me. So much of what I learned wouldn’t have happened had my course not been re-routed.
There are moments I still find myself feeling anxious because I want to be all that you need. I can recall many mistakes and I worry you might remember them too. I question if the decisions I make are the right ones and if my expressions of love will be enough. I wonder if I’ll hold a special place in your heart like you do mine. I fear moments will pass me by and I’ll grieve the many times I didn’t treasure them enough.
I will never regret choosing to stay at home with you instead of returning to my career. There are so many moments between you and I that wouldn’t have happened had I not chosen you. Our play dates, morning peek-a-boo, dance parties and afternoon trips. The moments you would tell me you love me from the back seat of the car and our bedtime stories in the dark with nothing but our flashlights. I’ll always remember the time you asked to marry me at your favorite playground with hand-picked flowers from our garden and a chocolate car wedding cake.
I’ll never forget the smell of your thumb and the many times I reassured you that Hippy asked Mama for a bath so he smelled just the way you like him.
I remember the times you were sick and I laid on the floor of your bedroom to make sure you were alright. I remember your first birthday and the ones after where I worked hard to fulfill the dream you envisioned for your special day. I remember your first day of preschool and the ones that followed where you reassured me that I will “always be your baby.” I remember the times you would creep upstairs to my bedroom with a guitar in hand to sing me a song about “making bad choices.” I remember your first steps onto the ocean floor. I remember your first time snow shoeing.
I work hard at recording as much as I can so we’ll never forget.
Every birthday, I write you a letter and seal it so that one day I can pass them onto you as a token of our journey together. I see it as a token of my gratitude for choosing me despite the unconventional circumstances. Many mothers will have a different story but I have grown to love ours. It’s extraordinary. I didn’t know you were coming, but you did. You live up to your name Isaiah. You prophesized our future before we even knew we had one. What I have come to learn in the five years since being privileged to be your mother is that you prophesized the woman in me I didn’t know existed. Turns out, you saw what I didn’t see in myself. You saw me as…
Someone who took chances.
Someone who was brave.
Someone who would give and receive unconditional love.
Someone who would work hard at earning your space in my heart.
I continually feel like I am chasing after what you have to teach me.
You’ve re-routed everything and in all of the right ways. I’m indebted to you for the life you set out to create through teaching me that there is purpose and meaning in having a destiny that may not have been a part of the “plan.”
I will forever crave your hugs and will forever offer my shoulder for you to lean on whenever you’re willing.
Five years ago today I got to see the person who set a course for our entire family. You’re bright, witty, independent, sensitive, loving and funny. You’re empathetic and are comforted by my stokes of your neck. I am convinced that while I am uncertain, you’re not. I know there will come a time when another special person will enter your heart. So I hold onto the moments that are only reserved for me. Today I celebrate the honor of being the first woman you chose to love with the belief that I would love you back.
You make it easy Isaiah. My love for you aches.
It all started with you and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Happy Birth~day to the boy who fulfilled my dreams of being a mother and taught me a necessary lesson about letting go of control and believing that the best gifts in life are the ones we didn’t plan for.
In Love & Truth,