I remember well, the day I sat in my friend John’s living room, having just bathed an ancient pregnancy test (found – oddly – in a wall in his house) with my pee. I don’t remember what day it was or what I was wearing or what I’d been planning to do that night. I do remember sitting there, smoking a cigarette, watching a line form. Not the first – YAY YOU PEED ON A STICK PROPERLY, DUMBASS – line; a second one.
Certainly it wasn’t a second line. There’s no way it could be a second line. I was on BIRTH CONTROL Y’ALL and really, no, just that wasn’t a second line.
I held it up to the light as it darkened; moving from a light second line to a dark WHOOPS! second line.
Then I made my friend John, in from shoveling the snow, look at it.
“That’s a line, right? It’s a second line? That can’t be a line. How could that be a line?”
John stared down at it, then looked at me with dawning horror. He didn’t speak. He just nodded his head.
That was the first time my life fell on it’s ear.
On August 20 (tomorrow), 2001, at a respectable 3:10PM, I pushed a baby boy from my nether regions, and while he looked at me with a similar look that John had given me – dawning horror – I wrapped him in my arms and kissed his damp head.
I was a mother.
Tasked with raising this extremely squally baby was a big job, I knew that much, but ten years later, I cannot think of a decision I’ve made since that hasn’t involved his well-being.
I dropped out of the medical school track and enrolled in nursing school. I found him a proper father. I gave him two siblings. We fought through autism and custody battles. I gave him the house and the yard and the kid sister and brother I’d dreamed of giving him, back when the days seemed darkest.
Because as blithe as I can be about things, there were days of only tears – no joy – because the decisions I made to better my life for son came with consequences. I was gone more often than not. I was taking a test when my son took his first steps. Speech and Occupational therapy met when I was in class.
While I was trying to give him the world, I missed out on so much. There were days I sat in my car and wept, trying to remember that this was all for the best, that in the end, I would be giving my son the world.
When I met Daver, Benjamin was two, and he took to him like nobody’s business. He took to Dave in a way he’d never taken to me, and while I was thrilled, it broke my heart a little more. I wanted nothing than to know that my struggles, killing my own dreams, everything I’d done, it was all for him.
In a decade, I gave my son everything I’d wanted and more.
He walked me down the aisle as I got married. He watched me march across the stage to graduate with high honors. He’s seen me become a nurse and later, a writer. He’s held his siblings when they were born, joy evident on his tiny face as they looked at him, their big brother, with awe.
There is not a single decision I have made in ten years that has not been for him or because of him.
When I say, “I don’t know where I’d be without Ben,” I mean it. I do not genuinely know.
And frankly, I don’t want to.
As I watch him scamper around outside, pushing his siblings on the swings while the screams of glee echo through my neighborhood, I can hardly believe that I’d once sat in my car, alone, weeping, worried about the future.
I’ve seen the future, and it is beautiful.
So is my son; my precious firstborn.
Happy Birthday, Benjamin. Without you, I wouldn’t be me.
Thank you for turning my life on it’s ear; making me a better person. For making me something I’d never, ever considered becoming: a mother.