My oldest child just married a beautiful young woman and I'm so grateful that he's found someone he loves and someone who also loves him. She makes him happy.
I'll never forget my first sight of Justin. When the nurses placed him in my arms, he looked so wise. He cocked his little round head sideways as if he was already thinking deep thoughts. Turns out what he was thinking was that he wanted to sleep. So he did. He slept for so long that the nurses were worried that he wouldn't wake up. They made us rub him with wet washcloths and jiggle him. He ignored everything and slept until he was hungry. We were worried and a bit frantic, but he knew what he was doing. He was preparing us for his teen years.
His childhood plays through my head like a movie. I see him crouched at the edge of the garden in his boots pulling up weeds and sometimes a vegetable. Holding up the first fish he caught. Pulling a stubborn calf along. Opening some Christmas presents. Always opening our hearts a little more to love.
Children take us where we never thought we would go. They give us the very deepest joys but they also teach us about the darker parts of ourselves. With my firstborn, I discovered that I wasn't as patient a person as I had once thought, and the addition of a second child to our family cemented that knowledge. I discovered that I was more selfish than I wanted to be and more easily frustrated than I had ever realized. On the day that my boys dropped their plastic soldiers into the toilet and flushed them, I discovered my temper.
But, I also discovered that the kind of love that I give my children is the one that sits deepest in my soul. It doesn't require reciprocation. I'm pretty certain that I love my children more than they can ever love me. That's the nature of the parent child relationship. And it's a good thing that it works that way, because sweet toddlers grow into complex teenagers.
Teen aged boys lack a fully functioning pre-frontal cortex and Justin was no exception. He ran experiments with hairspray, a lighter and his newly acquired arm hair in the back of the school bus. He piloted a truck over the edge of a mountain. He played mailbox baseball. There are rumors that he rode a shopping cart down a mountain.
He met Lisa in those pre-frontal cortex days and she loved him anyway. She's warm and kind and funny. She understands his deepest parts. He asked her to marry him.
Twenty five years ago, I held a tiny baby in my arms and wondered if he was as wise as he looked. It turns out, he is.