I’m a new mother. Again.
Because every new child makes me over – I am four babies redone now and it gets no less remarkable every time.
Today as I changed one of probably 300 diapers in the past two months, I began to see my little son as who he might become. “Will you be an artist?” I asked him, “A doctor? A construction worker?” I laughed at the thought of a big hard helmet on his soft little head.
But soon my thoughts landed on what I really hope for, what I will actually care about when he’s an adult. “Will you be kind? Will you love well? Will you be a good man?”
I am confident he will be as long as I stay out of his way.
Then I held him up to a height I think probably all of my children will reach – taller than both their father and I as neither of us benefited from the “tall” genes which run strong in our families. His face smiled and made newborn twitches from about 6 feet up and I saw him 25 years from now.
I saw his big brown eyes set in a mature, grown face. Stubs of facial hair and lines that don’t exist yet. I saw in my tiny, perfect baby a man who will have flaws, a man with regrets, a man who has learned a few things the hard way. A man who is loved, a man who is embraced by his parents, by his siblings, by friends he doesn’t know yet. A man who is unafraid of kisses, who is maybe even loved by someone in that singular way, a man who receives love because he knows how to give it. I saw in this chubby little infant a man, but not only that, a Good Man.
And I was proud.
I couldn’t help but talk to him there, my grown son inside this fresh-to-the-world life. I couldn’t help but tell him how much I love him, how honored I am to be his mother. I imagined holding his face and seeing both my darling child and a man I admire before me. As if the future melded into the present and I was beholding the whole of this person I helped create who is both entirely my heart and entirely separate from me.
I expect my children to do stupid things, to do reckless things, to possibly even do harmful things. But I also expect them to know without one tiny bit of doubt that they are loved. And I expect that love to save them as it has always saved me. I expect them to be able to face their darkness because they are confident in the light – even when it doesn’t feel so sure. This is the tremendous gift my parents gave me: an unshakeable (and I have tried my best to shake it) conviction that love will always, always catch me.
For now, I enjoy the way he relaxes into my arms, the way he smiles when he sees me, the way his cries settle when I sing to him. For now, I am happy to stay here with my baby and leave the man for tomorrow. But what a gift to see for a moment what we’re working toward. With every inconvenient nursing or punishing shriek from the backseat, I am doing my best to love this person into who he is so that when he leaves our nest he will have a firm foundation. This time now is fleeting, but oh-so-important and I’m lucky to have it with these little men.