I passed balloons tied to a lamppost while walking my dog on the eve of my son’s 18th birthday. Someone in the neighborhood had recently had a baby, and the sight of those “It’s a Boy!” swaying balloons immediately brought me back to when we brought Brian home from the hospital. The lead up to the birth of a baby is filled with anticipation and lots and lots of questions from well-meaning strangers, friends and family. What will the name be? Will you breastfeed or bottlefeed? Are you going back to work? When is the baby due? Of all of them, this question was by far the most popular:
What are you having?
It’s a question with a simple answer which some expectant mothers know and some, by choice, do not. We knew early on that we were having a boy, but we had no idea what else we were getting.
We had a boy and we had blankets and worry and sleeplessness. We had awe and wonder. We had laughter and closeness and we had to grow up quick. We had breastfeeding and bottles and sweet potatoes on tiny rubber spoons. We had explosive poop and great arcs of pee. We had a lot of Cheerios. We had trucks and blocks and a million walks. We had tiny pieces of cheddar cheese and chicken and bread and smushed bananas. We had balls and crawling and walking and running. We had so many giggles. We had music and dancing every single day without fail. We had sweetness and stubbornness and too many pairs of overalls and we had primary colors all over every square inch of our house. We had abcs and 123s and wonderful teachers and we had piano and baseball. We had worry and pride. We had Frog and Toad and Dr. Seuss and Little Bear and Jack and Annie and Narnia. We had Blue and Steve and Veggie Tales and Elmo. We had Mrs. D. and Coach Dave and Miss Margaret. We had cuddles and we had art made with food, play-doh, and crayons. We had Christmas and Santa and Grammy and Grampy.
We had more pride and more worry. We had missing teeth and new buddies and we had school committee meetings and town meetings. We had so many meetings! We held political signs and one of us wrote letters to the editor while the boy learned to write sentences with adjectives. We had great creations made with Legos and a whole imaginary world made up of Handy, Randy, and their gang. We had such sweet brother-sister moments, more than we could count. We had basketball and soccer and we cheered and cared more than we should about the outcome of those games. We had ice cream and pizza and we made lifelong friends out on those fields and courts. We had haircuts and school projects and field trips. We had church and VBS and grace. We had tears and excitement. We had learning, all of us at once, about everything. We had braces and girlfriends and first jobs. We had cross country meets and bunches of bananas and teacher’s conferences and great accomplishments. We had late night conversations and hugs and yelling, and occasionally, we still had dancing. We had surprises that made us worry and surprises that made us burst with pride. We had texts which made us laugh and some that did not. We (well, really me) had rosary after rosary and late night talks with Mom.
All the while, we had hearts that grew bigger, minds that grew at once sharper and more cloudy, compassion that grew larger, faith that was tested and rewarded, spines that grew straighter. We had inside jokes and knowing smiles and family legends and so much laughter and joy.
We had daytrips and vacations and meals and we had appreciation. We really did! Within the last couple of years, we’ve had the realization that time with our boy under our roof was growing shorter. We’ve had to let go. We (well, really me) had quiet tears after everyone was in bed. We had forehead kisses most every night. (We still do.) We had more worry, more pride.
We’ve had a literal lifetime of love and experiences I never could have guessed, and now I have my heart walking around outside my body in the shape of this man who was once my baby.
And if I could answer those people now, the ones who asked “what are you having?,” knowing what I know now, I would tell them:
We’re having an adventure of a lifetime. We’re having more love and work and promise than we yet understand is possible. We’re having our hearts and faith and strength poured into another person and we’re figuring it out as we go. We’re having a boy!