Thirty one years ago, on March 21, 1984, I learned what it meant to carry my heart in my hands for the first time. I became someone's mom. HOLY COW! There is just no way to understand what that means. If you are a parent, you know what I'm talking about. Suddenly, you are supposed to be responsible for this squiggly little human. Well, let me back up. Let's talk about how my first squiggly little human got here. Well, we're not going to go into all of the details about how he got here, let me just tell you about the day he finally decided to make an appearance.
Chip was due to arrive on, or about, March 2, 1984. For those of you who are not familiar with Texas history, March 2 is Texas Independence Day. I thought that was an appropriate delivery date, after all, he is a Texan and I was ready to have him independent from my ever-increasing belly! Well, March 2, came and went, as did March 3, 4, 5 and so on. Finally my labor was induced on March 21. (Do the math, that's almost 3 weeks late, by then, I was HUGE!) Anyway, think about it, why would any baby be in a rush to venture out of the relative comfort of the womb? They are warm, never hungry, get rocked all the time, I mean, really, what's their rush? As you might also surmise, while he was lolly-gagging about making his appearance, he was still growing. By the time we insisted that he join the party, he entered the world he was twenty-two and one half inches long and weighed 9 pounds 7ounces. (Yes, it was like giving birth to a rail-road tie). He had orange "carrot-shaving" hair and he was the most amazing person I had ever met. I just couldn't stop looking at him. Granted he was a newborn human, that is to say, he looked a lot like ET, but he was perfect! When the nurse placed him in my arms, I knew that my heart no longer belonged to me.
The nurses and the hospital staff repeated told me what a wonderful baby he was. They insisted that he never cried, nor seemed unhappy, rather, they said, he is just content to sleep. Well, they were right about the sleeping while we were in the hospital. He wasn't entirely sold on the nursing-thing when the clock said it was time to feed him. He'd give it a less than half hearted try and go back to sleep. Of course, being a first-time mom, I didn't know what the heck I was doing wrong and although I checked his bassinette for them, there were no instructions for feeding, changing, holding, transferring to another person/bed/the other breast or anything! WHAT THE HECK???
You might recall that I am the first born of five children. Well, I didn't have to do any of the parent things with my sisters and, in fact, I had no real experience with any babies. I mean, sure I thought they were cute when I saw them in church or at the grocery store or in movies but, where the heck are the instructions? I had only vaguely figured out the nursing thing and the diaper changing thing and the next thing I knew, they were sending us home. Wait, my mom and dad had just left to visit some friends in the Valley. What do you mean we have to go home? I don't know anything yet.
So, we get home and all was good until the sun set. No one told me that newborn babies can cry and cry and cry for hours. I tried everything I could think of to stop the crying. I rocked him, I sang to him, I cried with him, I tried nursing him, I walked all over the house with him, (it should be noted here that his father never moved, and never stopped snoring...nuff said). Finally, after what seemed like days, Chip exhausted himself and went to sleep. I just kept crying.
Fortunately, that was our one and only night when we were both wondering if we shouldn't find a "parenthood for morons" class. It sounds very strange, but it was almost like we came to an understanding that we were the best thing in each other's lives at that time. I think Chip realized that he was the center of my universe. I finally started to relax and really began to enjoy my new role as a mom. As he grew, and his personality really started to develop, I realized that not only did I love my child, I really liked the fun-loving little boy that he was becoming.
Chip has always loved to be challenged, he has a very quick wit, a fabulous smile and a wonderful sense of humor. When he was between three and four, Chip told us that he wanted a little brother. One Sunday, as we were leaving mass, he told us that he had taken care of getting a little brother. I asked him what he meant by that. He very sincerely said that he had prayed to God, during mass to send him a baby brother so he was sure he'd get one soon. He was correct. Reece was born about five months after Chip's fourth birthday. (You'll read more about Reece in a future post).
Chip started scouting at his first opportunity as a Tiger cub. He loved the camaraderie,
the challenge of earning badges, camping out, advancing through various ranks and testing his ability to achieve the goals that he set for himself. He earned his "Eagle Scout" rank at the age of thirteen. He is one of the youngest Eagle Scouts in the Alamo Area Chapter.
In the spring of his sophomore year of high school, we moved to Southern California. Chip did not initially want to make the move. Who could blame him? He had already suffered the growing pains of transferring from a small Catholic elementary/junior high school to a much larger public high school. He had made some good friends, dated a few girls, was involved in the band and the Jr. ROTC. Fortunately, my relationship with Chip has always been one of trust. I asked him to continue to trust me that he would enjoy this new adventure and that if he didn't, I promised him that I'd allow him to move back to Texas to live with my parents if he was not happy in California. Then, I prayed.
Well, both the boys were expecting to live on the beach, (near bikini-clad babes), and that they'd be rubbing elbows with celebrities. Well, we moved to a region known as the "High Desert" of the state. They were initially, not impressed! However, within a very short time, they made some very good friends and are both richer for the experience. One of the best things, in my opinion, of our time in CA was that I was hired to be an administrator at the high school that Chip, (and later, Reece) attended. (If you get a chance, ask Chip about trying to leave his computer programming class for a soda). High school is tough. Then, compound that with being the new kid for your Junior year. Sure, kids do it all the time, knowing that, however doesn't really matter as much when you are the new kid. Chip never missed a beat. He joined the band which gave him a group of students to get to know before the semester started. I was able to watch him make friends with an incredible group of young people with whom he will remain connected for a life-time. When he graduated, the first major mile-stone in a person's life, I was able to present him his diploma. WINNER!! Then, literally the morning after his graduation, he was gone. He moved back to Texas with my parents, spent the summer working, (and playing), and enrolled in Texas A&M that fall. He graduated four years later.
If you've made it this far, thanks for indulging this mom by letting me share just a very few of the things that have bonded me so permanently to my first-born. If you stay with me, I'll ask that you allow me the indulgence of sharing some things about my second (and last) son later. For now, I'd ask you to raise a glass and toast Chip on his thirty-first birthday.
Someday, someone is going to have to explain how my son can be thirty one when I don't feel a day over thirty five. Oh well,
Happy Birthday Chip, I will love you through eternity.