Eleven years ago today, I met this beautiful little boy for the first time. I can’t believe it’s been so long since the first time I looked into his eyes. You would think that after so many years have passed, my memory of that day would have faded a little. But I can tell you with complete Clarity the events of that day.
I remember being scared. I had just turned 19 years old a mere 18 days before. When I woke up that morning, it still had not hit me just how drastically my life was about to change. Even up until the moment I packed my belongings and a few things for him, (I can still remember the smell of the baby detergent I washed them in!) I was still confident I could handle this life change.
I remember going up to the maternity floor at Reynolds Army Community Hospital at Ft. Sill, OK and telling them I was in labor. I remember them telling me to go walk awhile, it would be quiet some time before the baby would come.
I remember walking Central Mall in Lawton, OK with my mom. I’m sure there were others with us, but I mostly remember her being there. I remember her telling me everything was going to be ok. I remember the look of worry on her face when I couldn’t walk anymore because the pain was too strong.
I remember going back to the hospital and being admitted and prepped for delivery. That’s when the fear set in.
I remember laboring. It was hard, I was scared and hurting. But my mom was there. And my friend Libby.
Libby made me focus, she was able to help me when my mom was falling apart.
I remember hearing him cry. I remember feeling weak, and tired, and scared all at once, but hearing him cry gave me strength.
I remember his father being there. It’s not a fond memory, but I remember it all the same. If only I had known, I’d give anything to change that.
I remember holding him, marveling at this little life I created. Amazed at how alert he was and all that hair!!!!
I remember looking at that little, angelic face and feeling all of those feelings my mother told me I would feel. Instant love, the need to provide at all costs. The need to protect him from the world.
It’s funny now, looking back at all we have been through together. The bad times, the horrible times, the best times. I still feel the need to protect him.
This presents a quandry now. Today he is entering a new stage in his life. It hasn’t come on suddenly, the changes have been happening slowly…but not slowly enough for me. I see a young man trying to emerge from the little boy I once had. I see independence trying to assert itself. I am no longer needed to “kiss the boo-boo’s” I’m no longer wanted to cuddle with. It’s no longer “cool” to hug me in front of his friends. And I am no longer allowed to enter the bathroom when he’s bathing. (lest he forget I once changed his diapers! But I digress, I will give him the privacy his new, changing self asks for)
I am still full of fear, but for a whole new set of reasons. I am afraid of the pain, the pain of watching him grow up. I am afraid of what will happen when he makes mistakes and falls, though I will always be there to give him a hand up. I fear what life has in store for him. Life can be so cruel, and I still want to protect him like I did when he was that new life in my arms.
I know I still have many years to go before he will leave me and embark on his very own journey, but it feels closer with each passing day. He has shaped my life, and who I am. I adore this little boy. He amazes me, makes me laugh, makes me furious, makes me smile, makes me wonder.
Happy birthday Clayton.