Truth is, it’s been super challenging to find a gift that somehow equates to the gift my son gave me 18 years ago. Sure…I could have done without the 23 hours of complicated labor, his ginormous head stuck in my birth canal, and the emergency C-section. But once that was all said and done, I was given the most beautiful present in the world, an 8lb 6oz cone-headed baby boy.
The doctor held him up and said “What do you think mama?” Words cannot come close to describing what I felt in that moment.
For the first four hours of Austin’s life I could not hold my cone headed baby boy. I was still suffering from several side effects from labor. But I distinctly remember my son being passed around from family member to family member with love and admiration. I remember my older sister feeding me ice chips and my mom calling my younger sister on the phone to excitedly share the news. I remember the loving expressions on my parent’s faces as they looked down at their second grandson.
It was only two months prior they found out I was pregnant. I hid my pregnancy for seven months. As I gained weight and my belly grew my parents would ask “Are you sure you’re not pregnant??” I denied it over and over again, telling them it was just Burger King. This was only a partial lie. I was pregnant, but I was also eating a lot of Burger King. I don’t know when I planned on telling them. It was kind of my way back then, deny and face things only when I had to.
When my parents finally found out I was pregnant it wasn’t because I told them. My mom opened the ultrasound bill from the hospital. My dad hadn’t even made his way through the kitchen door after arriving home from work when my mom said to him, “Jill’s pregnant.” I still remember his face. He closed his eyes, threw back his head and let out a pained sigh.
I was 22, still in college and unprepared for this big life change. I remember laying in my bed one day so afraid of what was to come, and then I heard my grandma’s voice. She had passed away a few years earlier and yet her voice was as clear as if she were laying in the bed next to me. She said “Everything will be okay.”
She was right, but everything was better than okay.
I was lost before I had Austin. Days were spent in college classes, uncertain why I was there or where I was headed. Nights were spent with a beer pitcher at a local karaoke bar. But when I held my baby, my purpose became very clear. My purpose was to be a mom. Austin was the greatest gift to me back then, and he has continued to be a gift every day of his life.
Life was hard and yet easy all at the same time. My life fell into place when my baby boy was born. It was as if all my questions were answered between our two beating hearts.
He has taught me so many things. Love without limits. Laughter without containment. Silliness without regard. Hope without restraint. Purpose without question.
Sometimes these lessons were easy and sometimes they came with a cost. He taught me patience when he threw his two year old body on the ground and banged his head against the floor because he couldn’t have his way. He taught me it is okay to leave a grocery cart full of food in the middle of the store during such tantrums. Someone will put all the groceries away. He taught me how much fun a little boy can have playing ‘claw’ with the foot of a dead crow. He showed me how to play video games while standing up and balancing excitedly on your tippy toes. He taught me when you are tired of that you can watch Thomas the Train move around the track until you fall sound asleep. He taught me to never ever fart in Costco or you just might poop your pants a little bit. He taught me that stuffed animals have feelings and they all deserve their rightful spot sleeping on the bed. He taught me it will always be my fault that I let him grow his hair out long during middle school, even though "the chicks dig it."
So no, there is not one gift in this whole wide world that will come close to the gift he has given me every single day for the last 18 years.