Today marked a significant day in our lives. Our firstborn became a teenager, thrusting us into a new era in our lives as parents. The preparations began at 1 a.m. as I breezed through the grocery aisle on the hunt for frosted sugar cookies (those really horribly unhealthy ones with nothing but flour and sugar in them and sprinkles on top). It was one request I had just enough time to satisfy. If he’d asked for home-baked chocolate chip cookies, he would have been out of luck. He distributed them to his homeroom later in the day. After school, I was buzzing around town again to find a shirt and tie for his band concert (the one we thought he could wear turned out to be too small). He spent the first evening of his 13th year of life on stage in the back row — percussion section — and was truly surprised when the band director prodded the instrumentalists (and the audience) to summon their singing voices in an impromptu rendition of “Happy Birthday.” (Our firstborn only likes calling attention to himself when it’s his idea, but we loved it!) Later, we gathered around the diningroom table at home to inject our kids with sugar via a snowman birthday cake, then sent them off to bed, where they all likely will have vivid dreams of flaming snowmen at some point tonight.
Can it really have been 13 years? In another 13, he’ll be 26. By the time we’d reached 26, we’d gone through college, married, started our careers and were adjusting our minds to the possibility of becoming parents. I still remember when we brought our first child to a pizza joint not long after his arrival. It was our first meal out. There we were, the three of us, a newly expanded family. My husband gazed down at the carseat on the floor and adoringly said, “Well, this is nice. I think one child will be perfect for us.” But our firstborn opened our hearts to the wonders of parenthood, and in time, we both felt ready to welcome another…and another…and another…and another…and another, including the one who died before we met him.
Is it a challenging life? Absolutely. No doubt at all about that. But do I have any regrets? No. While I didn’t have a clue what would unfold in the years following that first day we brought our new baby home in a Christmas stocking made by the hospital guild, when I look back on this interesting journey into the world of parenting, I cannot help but feel blessed that this is among my callings in life.