My beautiful niece is a few weeks from having her first baby. And, her brother’s beautiful wife is due to have their second early next year.
Having two new babies to celebrate, reminds me of the months before we had our first kid. We moved into our house, set up the nursery, bought diapers, and bottles, and onesies, and pacifiers, and car seats, and everything else. We took advice from parents, read books, and took classes at our hospital. Then we waited.
Finally he arrived. We had a son. An amazing, beautiful, son. I loved him more than I’d ever loved anything – just that easy. He was perfect, no one could tell me otherwise. Life was Magick, pure and simple.
Then we brought him home and reality set in.
All the planning and thinking we knew what we were doing, dove out the freaking window. With all the subtlety of a pack of puppies, chaos stormed into our home. It was very comfortable here. We made a little bed for it.
After a while our new family settled into a routine and we thought we had that parenting stuff down. Keep the kid clean and fed…no problemo.
Then he started crawling. Chaos again ruled our world. Fine. Lock the cupboards, put up baby gates. Easy Peasy.
Then he started walking. Hello, chaos. Then he started talking. Welcome home, chaos, my old friend. Then he started kindergarten. Chaos and I became drinking buddies.
The ache of leaving your child in a stranger’s care for the first time is unforgettable. And it never goes away. That first time you let them go – they come back a little different. And you ache for what was. What comes back to you is better in many ways. But still different.
Today he started his senior year of high school. That old ache is still there. I can’t protect him. I can’t keep him safe. Haven’t been able to for a long time. All I can do is now is remember that he is an amazing, level-headed young man. Perhaps he hides too much behind long hair and hoodies, but I know there’s still Magick under there. Powerful Magick.
Sometimes it’s a sad and somewhat desperate fight to get to know him – to see through the smarmy answers, the annoyance at any interruption, the “I know’s”, the blame and the frustration of teenage-hood, or worst of all, the painful silence.
But anyone who takes the time to listen to his quiet voice and sparse conversation is touched by a kid with extreme intelligence, intense political acuity, a kind heart, and a sharp sense of humor. People who know him don’t forget him.
I wouldn’t change a damn thing about him. Not one single thing. And I would give anything for him to see what I see when I look at him.
This time next year we’ll throw him out to the world – or at least to a college. He’ll be on his own. As much as I can’t protect him now, it’ll be even worse when he moves away from me. I will worry, I will fret, I will freak the fuck out. But I know when all is said and done, he’ll be fantastic. Because he’s a perfect mixture of Magick and chaos.
Was it really almost 18 years ago that we brought him home? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we brought him to Kindergarten? I’ve adjusted to chaos, finally. I kind of like it. And I’m not ready to let it go.
Luckily I still have my daughter, who carries chaos around like a badge of honor. I don’t know what I’ll do when she leaves for college. I’ll have to adopt a few puppies or something. They can use the bed we got for chaos.
I hope my niece and nephew and their spouses recognize that we go from Magick, to chaos, to long hair and hoodies, to saying good bye, and back to Magick again in the blink of an eye. As long as we keep our sense of humor, make every decision with the best interest and love of our children in mind, and we make that little bed for chaos to settle in, we’ll be OK and our kids will be great.