We’re planning a party at our house. But the details of food, drinks and decorations are trivial compared with the upcoming milestone.
It is my son Crosby’s first birthday on Saturday. Time has alternately flown and crept since he was coerced into this world a year ago, well past his due date.
“The party is really for us,” said my husband. “For keeping him alive a whole year.”
He was only partly joking. It hasn’t been without some bumps, bruises and bleeding – for all three of us.
We became parents armed with little knowledge, a few books and the power of Google. With both of our mothers long gone, we have made do with our limited skill set and gleaned bits of information from family, friends and strangers on the Internet.
We’ve navigated health scares that thankfully turned out to be minor blips in this blurry first year. The two of us have stayed on speaking terms while struggling to get a car seat properly installed. And we’ve had a lot of fun with this curly haired boy we’ve been graced with.
With his first birthday nearly here and my first Mother’s Day still in the rearview mirror, I’ve had plenty of reason to reflect on how much our lives have changed.
I have been wondering what would have happened if we had given in to that part of us that said our lives were just fine, full enough with just the two of us.
Because they were. We were happy and had plenty of freedom to come and go as we pleased. I could have quite nicely survived without the day care bills nearly equivalent to college tuition and getting up at the crack of dawn every day.
It wasn’t my life’s dream to be a mom. I didn’t grow up wistfully thinking about babies, picking out names or day dreaming about decorating nurseries.
Babies to me always seemed unpredictable, hard work and just plain difficult. But we had one anyway – mostly because I was worried that if we didn’t, we might regret it someday.
I’ve heard this is a terrible reason to have a child. But it was mine. So far it has worked out well. In the first few months I wasn’t so sure, but at some point the scale tipped. As there became more predictability in our lives and I learned that I was actually pretty capable, I fell head over heels for that little boy.
It all comes down to risk and reward. I know enough about the risks that come with life. With a mom that was diagnosed with cancer when I was a very young child and who had died by the time I had turned 10, I learned early about hoping for the best but surviving the worst.
Through my work, I have spent many hours talking with people whose lives have been crushed by circumstances beyond their control. More often than not, they are surviving and thriving with a smile on their faces.
For this week’s paper, I interviewed two different mothers who have left me with valuable perspective on my own parenting experience.
Linsey Rippy spent her Mother’s Day at the Mayo Clinic where her youngest daughter Sidney received a heart transplant April 25. But Linsey is an old pro at this. In 2008 her older daughter, Madi, got a new heart as well. Both girls had been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. Days later I talked to Lisa Yue, a New Jersey woman who wasn’t so lucky. She lost two little boys to the disease, spurring her to start a national foundation that supports other families.
I keep that close to my mind when I’m complaining about Crosby’s chronic runny nose or teething woes.
So, there are great risks and a leap of faith is required to get off easy street and take a road that is well traveled but pretty bumpy. Often, it works out. But sometimes it doesn’t. And I guess that’s as good a reminder as any to get out, enjoy the sunshine and throw a party.
The risk is that nothing lasts forever. But when I think about missing all this, my insides start to seize. The reward is this little boy who laughs so hard he snorts and just this week has started to call me mom.