Oliver was our easiest baby. He slept through the night at 10 weeks, he nursed and fed easily, he didn’t fuss or whine. He mostly sat back and watched his big brother and big sister swirl around him. He was slow to crawl, to walk, to talk. He was the essence of the laid back third child.
Oliver as a baby and toddler was no indication of the boy he’d become. Nine year old Oliver is observant, inquisitive, detailed, analytical, energetic and independent. He is reason over sentiment, comprehension over illusion, deliberate over accidental. He can articulate his feelings while at the same time stomp over others, unintentionally. When I would say “Why would you do that, don’t you think it would hurt his/hers feelings?” he would merely shrug. This reaction would drive me insane, leaving me to think my son was being defiant and disrespectful. But recently I’ve come to learn that his shrug is not attitude but honesty; he doesn’t know the answer. So I’ve learned to explain it to him and he files it away. It’s almost like watching more machine than human; he takes new explanations, processes it, remembers it and learns from it.
By the grace of God and biology my body coddled and nurtured a human being, releasing it from my womb at the moment it could breathe air.
But my job was far from done.
Breathing alone wasn’t enough to sustain life.
Things like eating and burping and sleeping in the exact right quantities needed to be tended to. Each miraculous milestone followed by the anxiety of achieving the next.
After they learned how to not spit up their meal I needed to focus on things like reading and puberty and social dynamics and politics and being conscientious and being kind and being a good friend and not over-eating and under-sleeping.
All of these little life skills taught over and over again.
With the constant, age old hope that they will be decent human beings. That they will raise another generation of decent human beings.
I am flawed.
How can I not pass on my flaws to my children? As inevitable as the tide and the sunrise.
The best I can do is laugh with them, own my mistakes and ask for forgiveness.