Thursday, August 09, 2007

Happy Birthday Dear Son

August 9, 1977, 30 years ago my life changed in a way I’ve never regretted. That day, after nearly nine months of anticipation, my son Jeff was born. For a second-year student in law school, the timing couldn’t have been worse. Back then there weren’t as many women in law school as now, but coincidentally, three of us were walking around the halls of the University of Alabama School of Law with ever-expanding bellies, which were not from drinking too much beer.

In those days, Tuscaloosa’s Druid City Hospital had little use for fathers watching their offspring come into the world, and we made the pregnancy and birth a road show to Birmingham where daddy-to-be was welcome in the delivery room if he could take the heat. Weeks of Lamaze classes, breathing practice and coaching barely touched the surface of what that day would be like. After a routine appointment, we were told the time had come. Thank goodness because I couldn’t see us driving the 60 miles in the middle of labor.

Our Lamaze teacher popped by the hospital and Nana-to-be had a chance to make the drive up from Montgomery although she had no desire to watch the event up close. It was a long day and he was a big boy. His birth was induced and he was pulled a bit reluctantly and jaundiced into my life. Hungry and tired, new dad got new mom a Big Mac, and we were off and running as parents.

What a wild time it’s been too. Isn’t that life, though? The little guy saw his mom return to law school after a short time off and saw her struggle to graduate, which I did. But love of the law didn’t stick with me like love of the kid, and I’ve mostly been one of those dinosaurs called a stay-at-home mom.

And so today, I look back through the years and remember. Feeding the ducks at the little pond on campus, a scare about cystic fibrosis, days as a Cub Scout den mother when I seriously wanted to run away from home because of what an unruly bunch of energetic and crafty (not the good kind of crafty) boys put me through. Nights reading to you, mean kids and bullies and a fight that ended the bullying, trophies, home runs, swimming, trips to see Nana or visit Disney World. Friends, never-ending sleepovers, camping, wild wiffle-ball games and soccer balls through basement windows. Driving you to your first job sacking groceries for Kroger, driving with you to driver’s ed and an accident at the gas station. A budding high school baseball career cut short by a bum knee, the school paper editorship. Prom, college, coming home to go to college at Loyola and nine months away studying in Italy before graduating summa cum laude. A trip to Italy where you were my Morgan Freeman to my Miss Daisy as we drove around the countryside of Tuscany. Seeing you as a man with a good job, meeting the love of your life, holding my hand as I faced a tough time, the wedding, visiting your home.

It’s come full circle. I am at peace that you are an adult who is a good and loving person. You know I’ll always love you. I really don’t need to give you any more advice and my “wisdom” really isn’t useful for it is mine and you will find yours. I trust and I know. Happy birthday, dear son.


Sarge Charlie said...

Wow, that was nice Shela, so well written, I envy your way with words. I suspect your son, Jeff has had a great day.

Tim said...

Happy Birthday, Jeff. You're lucky to have such a great, witty and intelligent mom.

BTW - Sheila. Just thinking about new names for your blog:

Portable kitchen sink? Just a thought.

Sheila said...

I hope he does. He deserves to.

That's sweet. Thanks for a suggestion. I'm still floundering and keeping tabs on what folks suggest.

Marion said...

"But love of the law didn’t stick with me like love of the kid,"...sometimes, Sheila, your words just bring tears flowing down my face.

A parallel...I worked as a para legal in the beginning years, hoping to go into law. Your words fit me exactly.

What an exquisite birthday present for Jeff! And what a great mom you are!

Natalie said...

I can attest that all of your efforts paid off, Sheila. I really enjoyed reading this. It's so important to have parents like the ones Jeff and I have been blessed with. Thanks for sharing this.

Sheila said...

Some choices we might regret but not the one to become a parent.

We were blessed from the get-go and even more blessed when you came into Jeff's world.

Naomi said...

Lovely nostalgic post Sheila. I'm sure that photo of you and your son has great sentimental value. Thanks for sharing it with us. Hope Jeff had a great birthday.


Sheila -

This is a wonderful piece. The pace you chose captures exactly how fast our children seem to grow up!

Sheila said...

I hope he did.

Thank you. "Turn around and they are a young man going out of the door," or something like that from the old song.