Monday, May 18, 2009

The universe gives what we need

Every year on my son's birthday I wear a button I was given as a gift by the hospital where I gave birth. It's beat up and faded, and I love wearing it.

Thirty-five years ago today I was sitting in a hospital bed braiding my hair and waiting for the nurses to bring me a baby. A baby that scared the snot out of me--he was mine.

I wasn't one of those little girls who dreamed of a wedding and played with her dolls as gently as if they were actual children, diapering and blanketing and cooing. I wanted to ride an ocean liner again and learn how to spit six feet and own a dog who could understand what I was saying. I was unprepared, to say the least.

Just as it always turns out, the universe had a better idea of what I needed than I did. And apparently what I needed was a cute little eleven pound boy covered with peachfuzz and possessing enough of my looks to fascinate me from the moment I saw him. We didn't have ultasounds back then, and we waited until the moment of birth to learn the gender of the baby we carried. But I had a dream about him, swaddled in a blue mohair blanket that I would receive as a gift months in the future.

Even though I thought I didn't want any children, I am so grateful that I accidentally got one. My son Jaybird has been a joy and still is. I had my sister and my mom to help with him, and I truly don't remember ever changing his diaper. I remember the sweet stuff. I bathed him and dressed him and told him stories, taught him to talk, and squatted down on the sidewalk with him to point at ants.

I'm not tossing the word joy around lightly. Perhaps the universe also arranged for me to have the kind of child I would be good at raising: a smart, independent, creative little man who brought back to me that childlike sense of wonder that I was missing. A talkative boy who said the most insightful things and had a streak of the curmudgeon. Serious and funny. Look! His favorite word was Look!

Now he's a grown man who likes to play guitar and read history and biography. He draws and paints and researches genealogy. He loves his dogs and knows himself in a way that makes him practical and steady. Sometimes we get to talking and the conversation strides off in all directions because we are so eager to swap what we know. He is a good man. What mother would ask for more?

Happy birthday, Jaybird. I love you.