Monday, October 23, 2006

Twenty-three Years Ago Today...

...I was in the hospital with a brand-new baby boy. 8 lbs. 4 oz, 21" long, with red fuzz on the top of his head, ten perfect little fingers, ten chubby little toes. He came with a healthy pair of lungs, which I was to become quite familiar with later.

DS#1 was our first and, as such, many precedents and traditions were set. Including saving the day's San Francisco Chronicle.

The headlines on that day? 241 Marines killed in Beirut Barracks Bombing.

"Are you sure you want to save this?" Hubs asked me.

I nodded. What good was it going to do to hide this from him? Eventually DS#1 would find out. But part of me--the part that lived through the Vietnam draft and war--wondered if the draft would be reinstated once he came of age.

Six weeks before his 18th birthday--when he would have to register with Selective Service at our local post office--was 9/11. That weekend was an Eagle Court of Honor for one of the young men we've known since Cub Scouts. The room was filled with 17-, 18-, and 19-y.o. males. Many were Eagle Scouts or soon-to-be. They were leaders, go-getters, with a strong sense of duty and honor. The kind of young men America has depended on in moments of crisis.

Again, I wondered: will there be a draft? How many will serve? How many will die?

Despite having a grandfather who served in the Navy in WWII and a father who served in the Marines during Vietnam, DS#1 has no desire to enlist. He has finally found a subject (engineering) that interests him. I think he would make a great math or science teacher, especially since he has struggled with ADHD and with reading. But he has always been the kind of person who had to make his own discoveries, his own decisions. This trait made for a rough childhood for the most part, especially with adults who thought he should be treated as a child because, well, he was a child. I felt his pain, his frustration, knowing that those very weaknesses would become strengths once he got older.

Now I hope he finds his way back to God. He is wrestling with the angel and, like Jacob, I think he's going to require dislocating something to get him back on track. (I see spirituality in him. But then, I'm his mother. Wishful thinking? Maybe. But I also know he has been given a very strong Guardian Angel. One who may be as stubborn as he is.)

Motherhood, for me, has been as much about giving up control as it has been about controlling. About discovering gifts and talents as well as civilizing heathens. Because of DS#1, I have met people, learned things, and gone places I would never have.

The world is still an uncertain place, as uncertain as it was twenty-three years ago. The difference is that I no longer have a baby to worry about. I have a man.