When I drove Nathan to school this morning (he usually rides his board, but he had a ton of extra stuff today so I drove him instead), I was thinking about the day after he was born. November 19, 1999—his birthday—was one of those gorgeous autumn days we get here sometimes, an anomaly of a day when you only need a sweater outside, and the light manages to find the last bits of glow left in the leaves still on the trees.
But in the late morning on the day after he was born, it started snowing. Kendell had just left with Haley and Jake, and the nurses left me alone, too. So I opened the blinds and sat in the hospital bed, holding Nathan and watching it snow. It was one of the most peaceful and sweet moments of my life. It was the time when I finally got to start building our relationship, independent of everyone else wanting to hold him and admire his incredibly long hands and feet. (When he was born, his feet were already too big for those newborn baby socks, which was a hint at the rest of his life: enormous feet.)
You have a baby and you can’t help wondering…who will he be? How will he turn out? And I am starting to see it. From that incredibly sweet baby he has grown—oh my, has he grown, 6’ 2” tall already!—into a teenager, with all the accompanying stuff. Braces and homework irritations and interesting girls. He loves eating and can put down an extraordinary amount of food for someone so skinny. He likes going to the gym and lifting weights. He is an artist and spends hours drawing, with pencils and his new discovery, black fine-tip pens. He’s #25 on the basketball team. He gets really good grades and is in Honors history and English. He loves knives (this is his oldest affection…one of the first things he did when he could walk was try to get into the kitchen knife drawer) and has some impressive butterfly-knife skills. He likes skinny jeans and cotton shirts and looking nice. And right now his hair looks exactly the way he wants it.
But all of those things don’t exactly capture why I am grateful for Nathan. He was one of my life’s biggest surprises, a joyous surprise. From the second I found out I was pregnant with him (three months in already!), I had this sense of him as someone who is both fierce and gentle, and that is exactly who he is turning out to be. Fierce in his affections and dedications, sometimes in his anger. Gentle and good. He is a loyal friend and he doesn’t like when the people he cares about are upset. He inherited Kendell’s penchant for getting stuff done—if something needs to be done, he’ll do it without much complaining. He’s polite and happy and funny, and again...none of these words are really capturing it. He’s not a perfect kid of course—who would want perfection? But he is an awesome kid, and I love him so much, and I am entirely, thoroughly grateful I get to be his mom.