Once upon a time (exactly 27 years ago today, actually) a baby boy--the third son in a row for an adoring set of parents--was born. He was welcomed by "big" brothers who were 2-and-1/2-years-old and 15 months. He weighed in at a hefty 9 lbs.-13 oz. and was a lanky 22 inches long. His shoulders were so broad--relatively speaking--that during delivery, the doctor almost had to break them so that this sweet baby could come into the world safely. Luckily, that didn't end up being necessary--but because he'd gotten stuck by the shoulders there was some fluid in his lungs, and after a quick rest on his mother's chest they whisked him down to the NICU to clear them and make sure he was breathing properly. Meanwhile, his exhausted mother waited impatiently in her hospital bed, unable to sleep a wink until she could hold him again.
This beloved third (and eventually, middle) child was the happiest, smiliest baby, and then the happiest, smiliest toddler. He was fair-haired and blue-eyed, spindly-legged, with a winning personality and a need for speed. By about 8-and-1/2 months, he was trying to take his first steps. By about 9 or 10 months, he was running. He laughed a lot but didn't talk much, relying for the most part on the point-and-grunt method to get what he wanted until he was well over two (causing an aunt to nickname him "the caveman"). His two older brothers were always more than willing to do his bidding without the necessity of words, so he used them sparingly. On the same day that he used the word "Superman" while playing a game with the big guys, he pointed to his Tommy Tippee and grunted at his mom, and no amount of gentle coaxing could make him say the much easier word "juice," or even "cup."
This third-born son was quite shy outside the family, and he had a tendency to cling to his mother's leg when he was out among strangers. But then he went to kindergarten and an amazing thing happened. His mother asked his teacher how he was faring. "I worry because he's so shy," she said--and the teacher looked at her like she had two heads and replied, "Shy? That's the last word I would use to describe him!" The shy little boy who wasn't much of a talker had morphed into a social butterfly. He became gifted at making friends, as everyone who met him was drawn to his glass-is-half-full, happy-go-lucky aura.
|8th birthday present: the Jurassic Park Compound playset. BEST. GIFT. EVER!|
The boy grew into a tall, handsome, happy teenager with a love of life and a passion for any and every sport (if it was on ESPN, he was watching it), a young man who made friends with ease, brought home good grades consistently, and became a gifted high school football, basketball, and lacrosse player. Next came four years at Notre Dame on an Army ROTC scholarship, where he majored in finance, minored in classics, worked part-time at the campus library, watched big-time college sports up close and personal, got involved in as many activities as his time allowed, and made a huge group of lifelong friends. Soon, he was out in the working world and putting his time in as an Army Reservist on the side. He had made his parents so very proud by the way he'd conducted himself and the choices he'd made, and most especially by the way his Catholic Faith had remained strong and intact, the way he faithfully attended Mass throughout the high school and college years and beyond.
Recently, this boy made the most important choice any man can make: he chose the woman with whom he is going to spend his life. Once, when he was about five and we were up at my in-laws' house on the lake in Upstate NY at a family reunion, I overheard the sweetest conversation between this boy of mine and a few of his young girl cousins. I was sitting up on the deck, where they couldn't see me. The kids were standing down on the lawn discussing whom they would marry one day, and my nieces were adorable because at the time, they thought the pool of available future husbands consisted of their male cousins. So who do YOU want to marry, M---?" they asked my boy. And without skipping a beat, he said, "Why would I want to get married? I've got my mom." (Full disclosure: although I don't have true favorites, I have momentary ones; and for a couple of minutes that day, he did occupy the #1 spot.) Well, he is getting married, to the most wonderful girl, and a little over a week ago my husband and I were privileged to witness the proposal along with a big group of relatives and friends. I am not losing my son to this woman; I am gaining a beautiful, delightful, loving daughter.
No wait! It's only the beginning! A little boy's life on earth began 27 years ago today...but now, a grown man's life really begins!
Happy Birthday to my boy, from your loving mom. May you have all the happiness you deserve!