Friday, October 26, 2007

A teenager lives here

I remember the first time I met Zachary. He was all scrunched and sad-looking after spending the better part of a day trying to get out into the world. His head was a little misshapen from the experience, and the little wrinkles on his face reminded me of his late great-grandfather from whom he inherited his middle name.

His first day was a tough one, as were the few that followed when he ended up in an incubator in NICU. For first-time parents, it was a rough initiation to the club.

Sometimes today when I look at him, I can still feel that moment, when he went from an abstract form on an ultrasound monitor to a squirming, very real, very dependent little being who was suddenly very much ours. I sometimes close my eyes and I feel like I'm right back in the OR, feeling that sense of not knowing whether I should stay by him or by my wife who had just had emergency surgery to get the little munchkin out.

It was our first lesson that parenthood isn't always easy, linear, or logical. And despite the craziness of making and raising little folks, parenthood has turned out to be one of those life decisions that we can't imagine not having taken. We can't fathom what the world was like before he arrived. Nor do we ever want to.

Thirteen years after that very big day in the life of a new, little person and his two very bewildered, very scared parents, I find myself looking at this approaching-adult who's almost as tall as my wife and wondering how we went from that to this so quickly. I wonder if I've done enough along the way to capture moments in his life in ways that he'll be able to hold onto when he's older. I hope I've been teaching him the lessons he needs to learn to become a good person, a responsible adult, enough of a success that he'll have what he needs to build his own family, his own new world, his own future.

Just as I did on the day when I first met him, I look into the future with a curious mixture of fear, hope and excitement. And as I listen to him speak to his younger sister and brother, I relax my shoulders a bit as I realize that he's coming into his own just fine. He's not ours to the same degree he was when he weighed less than the laptop on which I type this blog entry. But he'll inevitably carry little pieces of us forward wherever he ends up.

Happy birthday, Zachary Akiva. May all your milestones be happy ones.

Your turn: Birthdays are always about wishes. What's your wish for him?

26 comments:

Anne said...

I wish for him a happy and blessed bar mitzvah. And I wish for you happy and blessed teenage years.

Anne said...

Michele sent me, by the way.

Smiler said...

Happy birthday Zachary. And to Zachary's parents. And by the way Carmi, you can drop by my blog anytime. I promise I won't get a restraining order against you! Michele sent me. But I will be back. :-)

Square1 said...

Happy birthday to your son. Happy parent day to you. My kids are little yet, but growing faster than I can blink. I understand your feelings perfectly.

Michele sent me.

Thumper said...

I wish for him a smooth transition from 'tween to teen, without the angst and confusion...but a dash of attitude, because that's a teenagers right :)

Catherine said...

I can't think of a better wish than that he grow up as wise and loving as his father.
And thank you for you kind comments on my photos - I don't know about teaching travel photography though, I have no secrets except take a lot of photos - take so many that if 1% turn out OK then you have a good collection! (Wonderful digital cameras). And I've also found out that Photoshop does a great job of straightening the crooked ones, and retrieving detail from those that look impossibly over or underexposed.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Happy birthday, Levy household, and Zachary in particular.

Teenagers. Wow. Didja think you'd get to this point, Carmi?

Jennifer said...

I wish for him joy on his birthday and wisdom to face the teenage years. And I wish for you and Debbie patience and strength...this teenager business can be tricky occasionally!
It goes too fast, doesn't it? My youngest will be five this year...there are definitely no babies in this house anymore. It doesn't seem possible!

Sara said...

My wish for Zachary is that he be happy and blessed with life's necessities. And, that he always carries with him the words and experiences he has gained from what began as two very scared parents who seem to have done a fabulous job in rearing him.

Many blessings to you and your family!

craziequeen said...

Happy birthday to Zach!

What a wonderful post, honey. It sums up all that I have missed not being able to have children - but written in such a way it doesn't upset me, but warms my heart.

Here's to a wonderful teenhood for your little man.
If he has a dash of Carmi and a dollop of Deb, he'll do just fine.

cq

Karen said...

Happy birthday Zachary! What an exciting time for you, Carmi! I can share so many stories about parenting a teen. But that would take all the fun away. It's a bumpy ride...but well worth it!

Stopping by to say hi, since we don't have a Meet & Greet. Hope you and Zach and the rest of your family are enjoying this special day!

Jeremiah Andrews said...

I am sending good wishes for Zach on his birthday. And Blessings for your Bar Mitzvah. I hope the cast comes off soon for you.

Happy Birthday!!
From Montreal

Jeremy

Diane Mandy said...

Happy birthday Zachery. I guess you know the name means "sugar" in the Greek language. I hope that during his teens he retains at least some of his sweetness. I bet he will!

D.O.M. Dan said...

I wish him a long life, good health, and much happiness. I hope he respects his parents and appreciates how loving they are, which comes through very clearly to me by way of your many posts and pictures.

As the father of a 14-year-old boy, I know how that age can be sometimes. Mine is very different from his younger sister of seven.

Carolyn said...

Happy birthday to a fellow Scorpio!

I wish him many, many years of joy, and continual respect for the instillment of appreciation of life and the wise teachings his parents are giving him now :)

Beverly said...

Happy birthday, Zachary! I wish for you a wonderful voyage through these teen years as you continue to become the young man G-d blesses.

kenju said...

Happy Birthday, Zachary. My wish for you is to always know how much your parents love you, and that you listen to them always, knowing that they have your best interests at heart.

Bella Rossa said...

Oh, how sweet!! I wish your boy the creative work opportunities you seem to enjoy and inspire others with.

Leanne said...

Happy Birthday Zach!
I wish for you to have a wonderful birthday and an exciting adventure through the teenage years.

CG said...

As so often, I am typing through tears after reading Carmi's words! Happy Bithday to your son; with you as a dad I'm sure he'll make a wonderful young man you can be proud of!

Awareness said...

Happy birthday Zach!

Happy days Carmi!

Lori said...

A very happy birthday to Zachary (though belated...) My wish for him is to always have you and his mother beside him as you are now and to know that your love is unconditional. I suspect that his future will be very bright and blessed.

BreadBox said...

Happy Birthday Zach! I wish you a quicker time growing into who you are going to become than I had! And enjoy these tormented teenage years:-) May most of the torment be on others, and preferably not too much on your Mum and Dad!

Michele would have sent me, but the fates intervened, or she didn't have her game on or something...
But happy (belated) birthday anyway!

N.

Sara said...

I wish him all the adventures life has to offer & I hope he continues to have supportive parents by his side, even when he offers up the idea of backpacking around Europe before going to college - it's one of those once in a life time opportunities - I think it's a parents jobs to give their child wings & to help them learn how to fly, but they also must realise at some point they have to learn to fly from the nest on their own - not always easy, but with loving supporting parents like I think you both are, he will be great!
Happy belated Birthday Zach!

MissMeliss said...

Happy birthday Zachary.
Carmi, my wish for him is that he always retain a sense of humor, because if we can laugh, the world is never completely dark.

Gail B said...

Beautiful sentiments Carmi. I was touched when you said that your son will carry little pieces of you with him wherever he goes. I find that idea very comforting, as you might guess. It's probably the closest thing we have to immortality, isn't it? Anyway, it sounds like you are giving him lots to be proud of.