Monday, October 26, 2009

A decade and a half

Laval, QC, August 2009

It's been 15 years since Debbie and I became parents, 15 years since we walked into a hospital in Montreal, too young, too frightened and seemingly too unprepared for the responsibility of caring for a brand new life. It's been 15 years since a battered little man with a conehead - rough labor will do that to a kid...he was fine after a day, but we still have pictures - emerged into the world and imprinted himself on our souls.

It's hard to remember what life was like before Zach came along, before everything we did revolved not around us, but around the next generation of little people. Not that we often try to remember what it must have been like: We're too busy in the here and now to spend much time trying to reminisce about the relatively carefree existence of those early married years. And we wouldn't change a thing.

The little man is now not so little. He's almost as tall as I am, and I suspect he'll be looking down at me before too long. He already has to bend down to hug Debbie. His grandmothers, too. He's got a wicked sense of humor, a growing gift of seeing the world through a viewfinder - namely my viewfinder - and a limitless desire to put others' needs before his own and question why injustice and mean-spiritedness are so pervasive. Good question, and I know these are the kinds of traits that'll help him make a difference as he continues to spread his wings and follow his own path.

His journey, of course, roughly parallels and informs our own, and reminds us that every moment we have with him is precious. And tonight was filled with plenty of moments I hope he holds on to: We went to his chosen restaurant, took closeup pictures of the fireplace beside our table, discussed the relative merits of wood stoves vs. natural gas installations, had ice cream cake at home, tried to keep the dog from eating the dropped chocolate bits off of the floor, chatted with extended family all over the continent, installed the new wireless adapter on his XBox and worked together to get an account set up and the hardware working.

And through it all, I kept staring at him when I thought he wasn't looking, thinking about the little being he used to be, and how no matter how tall he gets, how much he accomplishes or where he goes, he'll always be our baby, and we'll always feel blessed to have had him.


Mojo said...

I'll let you in on a secret. At two decades and a half it's still the same. The sense of wonder, of "how did he manage to be okay when I was so clearly unprepared and bordering on incompetent?" The memory of those 8 and a half pounds of noise and appetite that changed everything -- everything.

Happy birthday Zach.

kenju said...

Mojo is right. Our oldest is soon to be 45. Lord, that makes me feel old! I was just certain that everything I did to and for him was counterproductive and that he would die because I was so incompetent. I guess I was wrong. I am so proud of him now.

Our first grandchild is now 15 1/2 and driving with a learner's permit. All the fear and trepidation I felt when his uncle got his permit has returned!! See what you have to look forward to, Carmi?

Beverly said...

Happy birthday to your son who came into your world and changed you forever. Our children have a way of doing that to us. We don't get very rich in earthly goods when we have children, but the treasure that we find in our children is matchless.

Thumper said...

Happy birthday to Zach! Everyone is right; years from now you'll look at him and wonder how you managed to bring such awesomeness into the world and not screw it up. The Boy is 26 and every time I see him I wonder if we just did better than we thought, or he rose above our stupidities...

Hilary said...

Happy Birthday to Zach. :)

What Mojo said is SO true.

lissa said...

It reminds me of the very first strip that started the "Baby Blues" comic boom...after the baby is born, and given to Wanda and Daryl, they are seen in dazed confusion, thinking, "NOW what?" Very normal and common, and when I brought Josh home for the first time, it was the same thing.

And yet, the lack of owner's manual seems to have been okay in the end. New problems and challenges arise as they grow, but somehow, we grow with them.

What a phenomenon that so few people really reflect upon - thank you for doing it for the rest of us who are now looking back, at our own first-child moments, and putting things into perspective!

And many many more happy birthdays, to Zach, and to your whole family!

Klaatu said...

Dude! He totally has to go out as a conehead for halloween!
We're from France.

kcinnova said...

A beautifully written birthday post, Carmi -- I can tell how very proud you are of the person Zach is and is yet becoming.
I find myself looking at my kids the same way these days, especially my oldest son. He's 18 and I wonder where the time has gone...

daisy said...

Happy Birthday!

(We had our own little conehead 25+ years ago and I didn't think it would ever go away but a couple of days later it was gone.)

Elizabeth Gilje said...

Your post gave me shivers. As someone who is officially embarking on the prospect of parenthood (fingers crossed!!) I'm already looking forward moments like this. Right now I'm focusing on treasuring each moment alone with my husband before we are blessed with the opportunity to bring another life into this world. We'll remember to take it each day at a time.

Until then, I'm also honing in on the photography as well. That camera doesn't even KNOW the action it's going to see. :)