Today, I have been a mother for as long as it takes to become an adult.
You probably realize this since you are the adult I mean.
In prepping for this post, the 18th Annual Anniversary of My Motherhood, I’ve been reading the journal I kept for you from the beginning. I have only cried a little, and I have laughed a lot (e.g., “Lately, Drew, means like the middle of the night”). A lot of my favorite entries about you have Drew in them actually.
September 7, 2005
Drew said the sweetest thing about you. He was trying to get me to win a part of the Shrek game on Nintendo, and I couldn’t get it. So you know what Drew says? “Let’s go get John from school. He can win this part. John can do anything.”
With the day fast-approaching in which my first baby has to register for what was at one time a military draft, I’ve been thinking a lot about choices.
I remember thinking about this long before you could speak. So many times a day, I would put you in a car and watch you allow it without any distrust or curiosity. He has no idea where we’re going, I would think, and I would feel strangely sorry for you. How frustrating to be strapped into a car seat two or three times a day without any idea where you’re being taken – it could be to Grandma’s house or McDonald’s, but good grief it could be to the doctor’s office for shots, you don’t know! And yet, there you sat, taking it in stride, fully trusting me.
This weekend I couldn’t stop thinking about all the decisions we continued to make for you since those days and how they have shaped you. We decided where you would grow up, what kind of school you would attend. We did not move you to another city or put you in a private school for better football opportunities like Tim Tebow’s parents did. We put you in public school in a medium-sized town and told you to play where the coaches put you, and that’s what you do.
We kept the faith of our parents and raised you in it but not in church. We moved you to a new house a couple years ago without asking your opinion about it. We felt we were doing it for you. “I want a new house before John leaves us,” I used to say. “I want him to be able to enjoy it.” But Drew’s reaction to being moved from the sentimental home of his childhood made me realize we didn’t do it for you at all but for us. Everything about your life until this point has been chosen for you.
When you were ten, you veered once. You were supposed to walk home from school with your little brother and your younger neighbor, to cross the busy intersection with them. Instead, you walked a different direction with a friend and came home later than the others. You were scolded, of course, but on the inside I was happy for you. You made a choice, I thought. Someday you get to do that every day, and it rocks.
People don’t appreciate this enough, I don’t think, the choices we get to make all day, every day. I hope you appreciate it. I hope you understand more and more that you actually did choose every day because you chose your reactions to all those decisions made for you. You chose how you would behave, how you would treat people, how you would play. And those are the choices that made you.
I still worry sometimes about the decisions we made for you, of course, and whether or not they were right, but I can’t change them now. I can only pray, now that you’ll be making them on your own, you’ll do it with confidence, with hope, and with all the happiness that getting-to-choose deserves. That you will understand it’s not about the big ones being perfect but all the small ones because they add up to the rest. And, when it seems iffy, and you have to try even harder, I hope you believe what Drew knew long ago.
You’ve got this.
You can do anything.
Happy Birthday, baby. I’m so grateful you made me a mother, that they let me take you home, and that we both made it all the way to now, the new beginning of awesome.