Friday, March 5, 2010

Don't Let Me Go, Daddy: On Raising a Son

So I bought this CD because I loved the song "Then". We were on the way to Babies 'R'Us to pick up some stuff for Zachary on the very same day we found out his gender. I had held off buying anything because I really couldn't find anything I liked that was gender-neutral, making it necessary to wait. We had gone to Target first, where I bought this CD along with some baby items, and I popped it in in the car. That was the first time I heard this song, and it made me tear up a bit. "Anything Like Me" by Brad Paisley.

If you have never had a son, you probably won't get it. But it reminded me of E. E is mischievous and rotten and messy. He's rough-and-tumble, all-boy. He has a sweet, angelic side too. But mostly, he just does stuff to either make me shake my head and laugh, or bite my nails and worry. He is delightfully male. And fun.

So last night, in the unseasonably warm sunshine we had, with the piles of snow from previous weeks' snowstorms melting fast, he decides he wants to try out his new in-line skates. He asked for those for Christmas, as well as a skateboard and other things that have the ability to maim my baby. He hasn't had a chance to really try them out yet. J decides he will take him outside and give him that chance.

Of course I have to be the mom. "Helmet, elbow and knee pads are not optional!", I exclaim. He does as he is told, and scoots outside on his little butt, completely garbed up. I watch from the window as J holds him up and helps him get started. "Don't let me go, Daddy.", he says. It is so cute and I am so amazed, witnessing this moment between father and son. E's blind trust in J, and J's unfaltering presence for our baby boy. And I also know that there will be times when Daddy has to let go. And I will too. Where we cannot protect him from bumps and bruises, whether physical or emotional in nature.

In that moment, my thoughts turn to Zachary. In that I get to do this again. I've never raised a girl, and I never will, so I cannot speak on it. But raising a boy can be scary, but it is by far the most rewarding challenge I have ever experienced. I think it is made to be even greater a challenge when you go through so much to bring them into the world. We do the medicines and the tests and the doctors' appointments and hospitalizations to keep them safe and protect them when they are in the womb (and in my case, to keep them in there),and that is hard. Very hard. But is it really any easier when they are out here with us? When there is so much more from which to protect them?

(Image: Blissful laughter, E at 5 years old, playing in the backyard. I snapped a pic of him with one hand while tickling him with the other.)

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