Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Calvin's Birthday - a child no more

My firstborn turns 22 today. Not a milestone birthday like 16, 18 or 21 but a big day nonetheless -



22 years ago I held my first baby in my arms and pondered what life would be like as the mother of a boy. I envisioned baseball games (turned out to be soccer and swimming) and lots of trucks and cars.  (Indeed there were lots of trucks and cars - and now the problem is getting dependable BIG cars for work!) I remember holding him and suddenly feeling panicked because I had no idea how I was ever going to potty train a little boy - a fear that quickly passed when I realized I had no idea how to nurse him either and that probably should be the first problem I tackled!

Calvin and Mom


I've written this before, but his birth changed me. I think you really become a grown up when you have a little person to take care of who is totally dependent on you. I also came to respect and depend on my own mother more for her help and her insight. I was surprised that mama wasn't really a baby person at first, (although she grew to love holding babies as more and more babies arrived).

But mainly Calvin's hospital birth, turned Cesarean changed me into more of a skeptic, one who asks more questions and doesn't really go with the standard answer from the medical profession. And sadly, I look back and see that not much has changed from the time I was sort of railroaded into a Cesarean delivery -if anything it has gotten worse. I am really afraid for my daughters and what they will face in the future. Even more concerned for my daughters-in-law because I will not have the same influence or place in their lives as I have for my daughters. If they have been raised to see the hospital as the savior for women in childbirth, I hope I have the ability to bite my tongue when they go the epidural, induction, Cesarean course,  unless my opinion is asked for.

But overall I guess I had to go that route . Calvin's birth lead me away from a blind faith in institutions and science, and brought me back into my Catholic Faith. It was also the beginning of my adventure into homeschooling. I doubt any of that would have happened without something to jar me out of my comfort zone. I'm amazed at how fast the time has gone by. Calvin was a big baby- almost 10 pounds. I loved that. He was solid and a good eater. I loved how brave he always was as a little boy and never afraid to try new things or meet new people.  He has always had the ability to make new friends easily but to walk away from jerks.  He's always had a bit of a problem with authority but he's managed to hold a job since he was 16, so he clearly has a handle on that. If I have one regret, it's that I maybe tried to make him too independent too soon. I so wanted him to sleep in his own bed (like the books taught) and to go to bed on his own without us.  One time, we thought we had put him into bed and then opened the door to the t.v. room where we had stayed up to watch a movie, and found him laying outside the door fast asleep.  I wish I had just enjoyed being with him more and didn't pay as much attention to what the books said we should do.

One of my favorite memories from Calvin's childhood is the Wishing Star. Calvin was fascinated with the idea of there being such a thing.  When he was 5 years old I had started hanging out with other homeschooling families.  They seemed to me at the time to be such smart mothers and so well read, and their children of course, had to be very, very advanced academically. In a concerted effort to become part of the homeschooling community, we started going to all of the field trips.  One such trip was to the local planetarium. I remember sitting in the planetarium and little Calvin's legs couldn't go over the edge of the seat. Still he listened somewhat attentively to the speaker and watched the program. At the end there is a question and answer session and the man giving the talk (whom I think was probably a grad student) was calling on kids to ask their questions.  And they were asking some pretty impressive questions too! about galaxies, and worm holes, and the speed of light.  Then little Calvin raised his hand, stood up, and asked, "Which one of those is the Wishing Star?" 

I could have died!!  But in truth, he wasn't shackled by peer pressure and he didn't know he was only  supposed to only ask certain kinds of questions. In retrospect, that question showed imagination.  I don't think he got an adequate answer and I think the speaker was a little surprised at the question. But I'll never forget how boldly Calvin asked it!

Calvin and Mom 1991?

I'm proud of the man he has become.  Parenting a 20-something adult is different. You can see the road blocks and pitfalls and you can tell them all about it, but they don't have to take any of your advice or even pick up their cell phone with your number on it! That's hard sometimes. But if part of the job of raising a child is to make him a self-sufficient adult and a contributing member of society, we have at least succeeded on that score with him.




Happy Birthday Calvin.
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