So... I have a son who can throw a curveball.
Maybe that doesn’t sound like a huge life-changing truth. But this is my baby we’re talking about here. Babies aren’t supposed to throw curveballs. Babies are supposed to sit on a blanket under a tree and clap their hands while we act like they’ve discovered a cure for every illness known to earth by being so cute. Babies are meant to drool all over their clothes and still be so adorable we are willing to pick them up and carry them around like that, all slimy nasty. Babies are supposed to make us happy and give our life meaning and change how we look at the world so we can be cliche and say, “Now that I have this child, all the lectures my parents ever gave me make sense.”
Babies don’t learn to throw curveballs and thereby strike out three batters in a row.
Okay, so he’s actually twelve and twelve year-olds can totally learn to throw off-speed pitches. But still. He’s my baby. When my husband and I decided to have a baby, I never imagined that baby growing up to be twelve years old. I guess I forgot that the equation of time + human baby= preteen human.
I planned polka dots on the nursery walls, breastfeeding for as long as I could swing it, and how to ensure his first word would be “mama”. I certainly never planned to have to explain bullying, sexual ethics, or advanced mathematics to my baby.
Where is my baby, and who is this giant boy who is so curious about impossibly hard things?
Every time I look at him, I see every year of his life pass by in an instant. I see his newborn face, his chubby baby legs, birthday candles being blown out, tricycles, first soccer game, road trip drama, first day of school, bad attitudes, first broken heart, and everything else that has ever happened to him. I relive his life constantly and at an ever-increasing speed, because every day we live adds more moments I want to remember.
But I see other things when I look at him, too. Behind those blue eyes and newly straightened teeth, I see all the memories that haven’t happened yet.
I see the cocky, overjoyed grin he will give me on the day he finally gets his driver’s license. I see late nights he will spend studying for the SAT. I see every Christmas we will share before he gets married and starts his own traditions. I see the beautiful woman he will add to our family. I see the baby he will one day hold up for me to bless with a new kind of love in my heart. I see a hundred years all at once, even though none of them may end up looking anything like I expect. I know when I look at him I am gazing at the way Love is propelling us into all the tomorrows of our lives. The beauty of it is overwhelming.
No one tells you about this bizarre phenomenon of motherhood: we become time travellers. The souls of your children are your Deloreans, and your love for them is the fuel for the flux capacitor. When you hit 88 miles per hour, life gets.. interesting.
The years run right through you like a breeze through a screen door. One minute you’re blowing bubbles for a toddler on the back patio to burn the remaining thirty minutes before bedtime on the longest day you’ve ever lived because molars erupting in your kid’s mouth caused you both to get only two hours of sleep and you have had to single-handedly distract a cranky, exhausted, horrid child for what now seems like a millennium.
And then, POOF, you’ve hit 88 miles per hour without realizing it, and your “baby” is cranking out a term paper on your laptop while you lie on the sofa with a good book.
It’s kind of sad, and it’s kind of awesome, too. Mostly, it’s just hard. I think it’s going to get even harder for me, because now that my son has his curveball down, he is apparently ready for all kinds of future dreams to be fulfilled.
“I can’t wait to be married,” he said last Friday. I was a little perplexed by this statement, since he is, as I mentioned earlier, still a wee babe.
“What part of being married makes you most excited?” I asked. (I winced a little and braced myself for his answer because we are dealing with a pre-teen boy here.)
“I don’t know. It just seems like it will be awesome. Plus, you’ll get grandbabies,” and he smiled his winningest smile at me.
You know, those curveballs my son can pitch? Every kid thinks he can tell where the ball is going to go, but it always does something unexpected. The key is to sit back and let the ball come to you, swinging where you think the ball might be. The best batters must predict the future.
That’s motherhood. I am learning to love every curveball it launches at me. I will either knock it out of the park or go down swinging with my heart on my sleeve. My trophies are the memories of yesterday and the dreams of tomorrow.
And today? Today is the best day ever, because he’s this incredible growing human with dreams and feelings and ideas and talents I could not have predicted when I carried him around in a Baby Bjorn and bragged about his new tooth. My husband and I didn’t just make a baby. We made a person who has already made his own unique mark on this world, and he has decades more to go. I am both terrified and thrilled by this truth.
But whatever he becomes, the best part of motherhood is that he’s mine. Even when he thinks he belongs to someone else someday, I‘ll still know the truth.
Curveball, schmurveball. That’s my baby out there.