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?