This is a love story.
Over the course of many years and through seven miscarriages, I tried to bring my son into this world. I knew him well before I ever met him, knew his name years before he was born. The connection to him was so strong, so powerful, it could not be denied or ignored. The desire to have this soul in my life burned red hot, but as I turned 40 it seemed that it was not to be; my body simply refused to cooperate in this joint venture.
One morning in December 1992, I awoke from a dream so vivid, it felt like I’d just left a movie theatre. I knew exactly what I needed to do to bring my son to me, and lost no time in setting the wheels in motion. Every step had been laid out for me in my dream, like a well-ordered set of directions. I immediately contacted a well-known adoption attorney, placed ads in local newspapers in Southwestern states only, and began designing the book that is shown to prospective birth mothers to help them choose a family to raise their child. I targeted that particular area of the country because in my dream, my son was Latin. Being raised in south Texas, I had a natural affinity to all things Latin or Mexican.
In very short order, the attorney had matched us with a young Mexican waitress due to give birth in May, but when I discovered she was having a girl, I declined. My child was a boy, without a shadow of a doubt. Almost overnight, we were matched with a young Hispanic girl from Colorado, ”J”, who was pregnant with her third out-of-wedlock child. She and her two-year-old came to live with our extended family on the Jersey shore, to await the birth of her baby. Despite being her labor coaches, we didn’t make it to the hospital in time for the baby’s birth. We lived three hours away in New York State, and wouldn’t you know, J. went into labor on a Friday in August! Anyone who has witnessed the Garden State Parkway on a summer weekend would know right off the bat we weren’t going to make it in time.
I first laid eyes on my boy when he was five hours old, and immediately I was at peace, all was right with my world; there would be no more wanting anything. My heart’s desire for five years had been realized. In sharp contrast to my joy was the worst human pain I’ve ever witnessed on the day J. had to say goodbye to her baby. It was also the most selfless thing I’ve ever seen. To be able to give someone up who is such a part of you, just so they could have a shot at a better, more settled life. A life outside of the barrio and the drive by shootings she was sure would claim her younger brother, now that’s the essence of pure love. Three human beings had boundless love for this newly arrived little soul.
My son’s nickname since kindergarten has been Paco, due to his Hispanic heritage and coloring. His schoolmates always seemed to be fair skinned and light haired, so he was a bit of a hothouse orchid in their midst. When his teachers required their students to do self-portraits, he always, without fail, colored himself black. When I suggested that perhaps he might want to color himself brown or tan, he earnestly stated, “But Mommy, I’m a little black boy!”.
Sometimes my love for my son frightens me. I would jump in front of a speeding car or train to save him; I possibly could commit murder if someone harmed him. I am already angry at the girlfriend he doesn’t yet have for her potential to wound his heart someday. I suppose all parents feel this way, at least I’d like to think so. I wonder if teenagers are put on earth to teach us lessons about anger, forgiveness, patience, and tolerance? I believe I have learned as much from the folly of his teenage party as he has.
As you may remember, Paco pulled the typical teenage trick of having a huge party while we were in Asheville for a spa vacation, complete with two visits from the local police. The party was bad enough, but it was his initial lying about it, which really caused us to rip him a new hiney hole. He lost his cell phone and computer and was grounded for two months, except for school and his pizza delivery job. His beloved El Camino has been taken away temporarily, and in order to keep his job, he has been forced to drive the Mommy van all over the island. That’s right folks! Without a doubt he would tell you that the worst of his punishment for his lack of judgement, wasn’t the loss of phone, computer, or vehicle. Lord no! The worst was being forced to drive a Dodge Grand Caravan bearing a likeness of his mother and the words Pooter and Booger’s Place emblazoned on both sides. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor? Vengeance is mine, sayeth the mama!
Sweet payback on wheels
As angry as The Spousal Unit and I were over the whole incident, and with as much betrayal and disappointment as I felt at the time, enough already. That’s why we call them kids and not fully-formed mature adults. Mistakes are made, and hopefully, along the way, lessons are learned. When parents tell their kids “this hurts me more than it hurts you”, BELIEVE them. No parent looks forward to punishing their child. Choices made today will form your tomorrow, and I am truly sorry that my boy’s wrong choice on February 5th caused sixty days of his precious senior year to be taken away from him.
The upside to all this was that he took his punishment like a man, no grousing or moaning. He also walked to and from the gym with me, and accompanied me to the grocery store. For the mother of a high school senior, that was a rare treat indeed. Last Monday, precisely sixty days after the party caper, The Parental Units declared him freed from his penance. Later that day, as I was walking to the gym, a car passed by, with Paco hanging out of the back window, arms outstretched and shouting, “I LOVE YOU, MOM!” for all the world to hear.
OK, who’s ready for more “Texas Toast”? I have to confess that the year after I returned from Europe may be a little sketchy; I seem to have lost my diary for that year, and therefore have no guideposts to assist my middle-aged brain in its meanderings down memory lane.
I do remember I started doing runway work in that time. Despite the huge adrenalin rush that came with doing fashion shows, it was never my favorite thing. There was such frenzy, and pulling and ripping of clothes, and the mad dash to get back on the catwalk in a different outfit, always with a tiny prayer that no private body parts might have been exposed before you were shoved out from behind the curtain. And if there was a wardrobe malfunction, please don’t let ‘Women’s Wear Daily’ catch it on film! Many models thrived in that environment, but I preferred the relative calm and pace of still photography. Give me Tai Chi or yoga over head-pounding aerobics any day, and brisk walking always trumps jogging in my book. I think I’m more the tortoise than the hare, but The Spousal Unit would surely disagree. He calls me ‘His BB in a boxcar’.
Image from shakespearssister.blogspot.com
AA, from ‘Big Happy Nothing
’ this photo is for you! The Booger on his graduation day from Beginner’s Citizenship class.
The Reluctant Scholar