Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Noah Turned 13--Reflections on His Young Life

Feels like a long time ago... and yet not long ago at all. I can call it all to mind and find myself, 29 years old, and wrapped up in all the feelings that washed over me when Noah lived inside. How I had wanted to be a mom! Mark and I were both excited and scared and thrilled and lost in the wonder only a first born can bring. We were going to have a baby. We were going to have a baby.

Seeing him on the ultrasound was the most amazing thing. For me, the whole of the pregnancy had been deeply real. I could feel him move and kick and turn and roll and from the very first time I felt him wiggle inside, he was real. He was ours. He was Noah. But for Mark, seeing his baby boy moving on a grainy screen was what it took to pull all the pieces together and really understand that a son was coming. We had several ultrasounds and knew from early on that our little one was a boy. It helped me to know him, somehow. It helped me to picture him... not just as an infant but as a toddler, a preschooler, a child. My son.

He was late... really late. Born 11 days after his due date, after 19 and a half hours of labor. I labored at home for 12 hours and went into the hospital dilated to a fingertip! A long, long day. But honestly, I just kept telling myself that at the end of all this work, my empty arms would be full. We would become family.

Just after he was born, Mark was talking to him quietly under the warming lights while the docs and nurses checked him over. I wanted desperately to hold my baby, to connect to him, to comfort him after all he had been through. Being on the other side of the room while they tended to me felt like being on the other side of the world from my boy. I called to him.

"Noah. Noah. You're okay, buddy. Noah. Momma's here."

I swear to you, and I have witnesses, that my minutes old, perfect baby boy completely turned his head right then. He stretched to look in the direction of my voice. And he stopped fussing altogether. He knew me. My baby knew his momma's voice and even in the midst of all that craziness in the room, turned to find me.

My life changed right then. Some people might be put off by such a change but I was so lost in the wonder of it all that it felt perfectly... well... perfect to me. Mark and I were in awe of every single thing that baby did. We video-taped him for hours, sitting in his bouncy seat, just in case he might smile or move his hand. We cried when he cried, we hurt when he hurt, we laughed out loud when he first giggled and then were moved to tears by the beauty of it.

When Noah was born, we were residence directors at Trinity Christian College. The whole campus had waited for his birth and then waited for him to come home. On the night we brought Noah home from the hospital, the Oscars were on TV. At Trinity, they often have a huge event on that night and the students are all dressed to the nines for the festivities. It still brings tears to my eyes to remember coming into our tiny, dorm apartment and sitting down in my rocking chair with Noah in my arms. Students lined up at the front door to come in and see him and stood dressed in their finest clothes, staring at my boy. They quietly left then through the back door and Mark and I both commented on how amazing it was to have a baby be born into such intimate community. How blessed we were to share this with all these well-loved students!

He grew into a sweet little boy, a lover of books, a cautious little fellow who waited forever to learn to walk. He slept well, ate well, played peacefully and listened intently. At his baptism, the pastor stopped midway through the carefully worded liturgy because our infant son was looking at him so deeply that it almost seemed like he understood the words being said over his sweet self. He was always lost in thought... a look on his face like he was trying to solve all the problems of the world.

Other memories of Noah:

-He has two cowlicks on the top of his head that go in opposite directions. Without lots of gel, his hair never laid down. When he wakes up in the morning, even now, I can see them still.

-When Noah was a baby, he cried from 6PM til 10PM for months. If we carried him in the sling, he did better... well... sometimes.

-Noah screamed his head off while learning to ride a bike. We honestly felt like the worst parents on the block, torturing our child by making him pedal.

-We taught Noah to sleep through the night at the same time as this was covered on Mad About You. Paul and Jamie Buchman stood outside Mabel's door and cried while their baby cried. And so did we. And then we watched him sleep. I did the same thing last night. He is much bigger now, but I promise you, to me he still looks just like this:

-Noah stopped talking after school in Kindergarten. He was shy and scared and would come home overwhelmed. We switched schools.

-Once Noah started to read, he never stopped. Keeping him in books has been a wonderful challenge all these years.

-We enrolled Noah in soccer when he was 6. He had never played nor seen the game before that time. He was, by far, the smallest and meekest and least competitive kid out there. If you saw him play today, you would never believe that could be true. He will fight anyone for the ball and plays well. I am so glad we kept him in.

-Last summer, Noah led a group of VBS students at church and they followed him everywhere he went. It was amazing to see how much he had grown, how mature he was becoming.

It has been 13 years. Today, he will not come home until almost 5PM because he is learning to run track at school. Tomorrow, he will try out for the play. He plays soccer and baseball and basketball and loves to be over-involved. All of that tells you something about what Noah does but not a lot about who Noah is.

Noah is my son. He is loving and funny and brave. He is respectful and I love the person he is becoming. He holds such a special place in my heart because I learned to be the momma I am with him. He had to be patient while we figured it out. And he is the only one of my kids who knows what it is like to be an only child. And I know it sounds impossible, but I swear to you that when I look at him today, lanky and changing, the face I still see is the one I saw when I first called to him from across that delivery room. He turns to me today and looks and I am a new momma all over again and he is new, too. Same face. Same wonder. I am lost in it still because the truth is that finding my son has turned 13 is no less miraculous to me than finding he had just been born. This journey we take together as mom and son has been the most incredible walk and I cannot honestly believe how blessed I am to be mom to this boy.

So, now it begins. The teen years are before us. I thought I would be scared. But you know what I found? Noah at 12 is the same Noah at 13. He is still thoughtful and respectful. He is still a great kid to know. He is just a little older.

When Noah was little, I made a promise to myself that whenever Noah heard me talking about him, the words he heard would be positive. I would not get on the phone and complain about being home with a baby or about his crying or about his diaper rash or tantrums or separation anxiety. He heard me tell others that he was good. He heard me talk about what he was doing well... even when that thing was hard to find. And he rose to that occasion. The teen years are upon us and the worry inside me today has more to do with hoping I have what it takes to do this next part well. But, my promise to myself holds true today. My son is not perfect, far from it, but he is perfect for me. And as we walk through these next interesting years, I will choose to focus on that which is good. I will choose to allow my son to overhear what I love about him, what I respect about him, what makes me smile. I have no idea if he will rise to that occasion again... but it seems to me that the road is right.

My heart is full and I have so much more to say... but you have listened to me enough. So, let me end with this. I love my son. He is 13 and I love him still. Getting up today and tomorrow to continue to walk with him is an amazing privilege that I hope I never forget to honor. It feels like 5 minutes have gone by since that first ultrasound picture... and yet... look at my boy today.

Blessings on your day!

1 comment:

Laurie said...

Thanks for such a lovely tribute to your Noah. I think it is such a wonderful thing for him to be able to read and know how you feel about him. :)