July 14, 2009
I am crazy about my son. CRAZY! Sitting here thinking about him makes my heart swell with emotion. It’s amazing that I could give birth to him, spend nearly every day of his life with him and yet still feel like I have so much to learn about him. Matthew is complex and tender – and in many ways still a complete mystery to me.
Although we had just celebrated Madison’s first birthday when I realized I was pregnant, I wasn’t shocked. My stallion and I had discussed birth control and decided he would be responsible for making sure we didn’t irresponsibly add to our family with one of those passionate heat-of-the-moments that rarely come along with a toddler in the house. Instead, we wanted to wait until we were ready for another child, plan accordingly and responsibly.
It’s a good thing I wanted a second child and I wanted them to be close together in age, otherwise my stallion might still be in the doghouse.
I was thrilled to be blessed with a second child, but there was a part of me that felt sad for Madison. After all, her time as my baby would be short. I would soon have to divide my time and effort and I worried she was getting short-changed. I also worried about my abilities. Could I handle two babies all day alone by myself? Selfishly I wondered if I could manage the household and continue to pursue my master’s degree?
But it was in the dark and quiet of the nights that I faced my worst fear. As I watched Madison sleep, with a heavy heart I worried that I couldn’t love this child I was carrying like I loved her. I felt terrible for even the thought, but it was real. I wasn’t sure I had the capacity to love another child with the same overwhelming love that I experienced with Madison. I prayed for God to bless me with a healthy child and a heart like His.
I laugh now thinking of those feelings. They didn’t last for one minute – not one. The second the doctor put Matthew on my stomach, I was completely and totally in love with him. I couldn’t, and still can’t, imagine life without him. Being his mother completes me.
It’s a good thing I was totally smitten with Matthew because he made it challenging for anyone else to love him. He didn’t really like anyone much other than me. He didn’t like the bottle. He didn’t like the red sippy cup. He didn’t like to nap. He didn’t like the line across his socks to bunch up across his toes. And he definitely didn’t like to poop on the potty.
With the help of some good teachers and my co-mom (code word for babysitter, but so much more) Tracy Paloucek, somehow my anal and uptight preschooler evolved into a completely laid back youngster. I’m not sure how it happened, I’m just thankful it did. Today, I rarely hear Matthew complain. He’s easy-going and is typically more focused on others than he is himself. He has a beautiful heart and a gifted mind. Sometimes our conversations truly amaze me.
Now for those of you who read my post on April 28, you know that Matthew is human. I’ve also explained my worries related to his progress in writing. This concern prompted us to come to a family decision that Matthew needed a writing coach for the summer to help him be prepared for sixth grade. And so it has been; Matthew’s summer has been structured around his tutoring with Mrs. Rutter.
Mrs. Rutter and Matthew have a cool connection. It’s not one that I could have planned for, but only hoped and prayed for. They meet three times a week and Matthew has daily reading and writing assignments to complete outside of their meetings. Much to my delight and surprise, Matthew hasn’t complained once about the task ahead of him. Instead, he’s committed and enthusiastic about this opportunity to grow as a learner.
After working together for a month, Mrs. Rutter and Matthew decided that it would be a good time to sit down with me and update me on his progress. Yesterday we met and I had the best parent-teacher conference of my life.
I arrived for my scheduled 10-minute meeting and set across the dining room table facing both Matthew and Mrs. Rutter. Much to my surprise, Matthew began the conversation and pulled out a page of prepared notes from which he referred. He explained to me how he developed goals for his summer of writing, what he needed to improve on, strategies he is using to become a better writer and then he showed me some examples. He was articulate, confident and empowered – and it was incredible! Several times during the meeting I found myself distracted from what he was saying and instead just marveling at his progress. Thirty minutes later, Matthew concluded his conference by asking me if I had any questions, comments or concerns.
I obliged Matthew and one by one, discussed my questions, concerns and then offered my comments of praise for his effort and progress. I have never seen him so engaged and in charge of his learning, particularly in a subject that he hasn’t typically enjoyed. It was amazing and several times I had to fight back tears of pride.
Today I was talking with one of my favorite doctors who I call on regularly (for those of you who don’t know, I sell pharmaceuticals to subsidize my writing habit). As usual, he asked me about my children and as I shared this story about Matthew, he articulated what I had witnessed but not yet put in words. With the tenderness of a seasoned father and grandfather, he got tears in his eyes and his bottom lip began to quiver as he said, “Girls need to feel good to do good. But boys – like your Matthew – they need to do good to feel good.”
Truer words may never have been spoken. And with that, I have gained valuable insight into this mysterious transformation into manhood that is appearing before my very eyes.