Thursday, November 8, 2012

My Cub

An excerpt from an article originally published in the Daily Mail UK, online, 9/26/11

Clinging on for dear life to the side of a vertical cliff, the tiny lion cub cries out pitifully for help.  His mother arrives at the edge of the precipice with three other lionesses and a male. The females start to clamber down together but turn back daunted by the sheer drop.
Eventually one single factor determines which of them will risk her life to save the youngster – motherly love.

Slowly, agonizingly  the big cat edges her way down towards her terrified son, using her powerful claws to grip the crumbling cliff side. One slip from her and both animals could end up dead at the bottom of the ravine.
Just as the exhausted cub seems about to fall, his mother circles beneath him and he is snatched up in her jaws. She then begins the equally perilous journey back to the top. 

Minutes later, they arrive and she gives the frightened creature a consoling lick on the head. 

Go on, grab a Kleenex.  Nature is such a powerful teacher.  If I'm being very honest, sometimes I'm afraid that I'm messing this whole motherhood thing up.  Should I be spending more time with him?  Should I be scolding him in different ways?  He's not even 2 yet so he can't always find the words to communicate with me and I sometimes imagine this silent scream (which is not often silent) coming from within him out of frustration that I just don't get it.

Mama said there'd be days like this

Last night Jack woke up in a fit of screaming.  He's getting his 2 year molars in and I can only imagine the agony.  In a reverse of the mother lion I ascended the cliff, otherwise known as our stairs and found my cub.  I brought him back downstairs to sleep with us in our bed.  Eventually, this amounts to his feet digging into Trevor's back and his skull nestled in between my shoulder blades.  From an aerial point of view, we make a big letter H.

Happy haphazard harbor

Trevor and I have oft repeated the parental mantra, "he won't be this little forever" and we wearily tell this to each other as we lay there preparing for what will be a long night.  Before Jack begins his bedtime break dance routine I feel his little warm body nestled against mine.

"Is he spooning me?" I ask.

"Ha. Yeah." says Trevor.

"Good." I reply.

I can't always be with my cub.  That's what separates us from the mother lions I suppose. Because I'd descend any cliff to rescue him, that's for sure.  So I think about the ways I am there for him and the times I do make sacrifices for him and that brings me some comfort even when I lose sleep.  I know that someday Jack will be making me lose sleep when he's not under my roof, when he's far, far away at school or work or with his own family.  I'll lose sleep in a warm bed with lots of room to roll around because he's no longer here.  So I will allow myself to lose sleep knowing that his little body is next time mine breathing and dreaming.  

And every new day is a fresh start as a mom.  I'll mess things up, I'll make things right.  I'll feel alternately racked with guilt and bursting with pride at the choices I make and the wonder that is my son.

And I know that he won't be this little forever, but he will always be my cub.

Incidentally, I can also tell you another thing that separates us from the lions.  Here's one last photo from that article.  Notice the three lionesses and the one clearly enlightened male lion attempting to climb down the cliff?  Notice the other male Lion relaxing off to the side?  Most likely thinking of his next hunt or the upcoming presidential election between Simba and Timon.  Well that ain't our daddy lion.  Before I ascended those stairs last night, Trevor had already gone up and I found him holding our cub whispering in Jack's ear as tears streamed down those tiny cheeks that everything would be alright.

With a pride like that, there's no way we'll mess this up.

"Looks like they have a good handle on the situation."

Friday, November 2, 2012

I love you. The end.

Jack is a lover.  He's scrappy too, but he is a lover in his heart.  He kisses and hugs the little boys and girls at his daycare freely and without hesitation.  I treasure this age.  I marvel at his instinctive displays of affection and tenderness because it won't always be this way.  Eventually he will learn boundaries and that not everyone appreciates it when you walk up and kiss them, especially on their bellies.  He's a belly kisser.

Last January, I wrote a poem for Jack's 1st birthday which you can read here.  Go ahead and read it if you haven't, it will make the rest of this make more sense.  It's ok, I can wait...

My first draft of the poem mentions Jack as a father in his bed on a birthday far into the future when his children come bouncing in with homemade birthday cards and his wife making pancakes in the kitchen.  After I wrote it and read it, something didn't quite work for me.  You see, I know plenty of married men and women, the majority of my friends are heterosexual couples.  But I also know Annette and Allison, Eric and Kris, Dava and Kristin, Myke and Mark, Amy and Zayda, Chris and Dan, Jennifer and Mary.  I know them all and I love them very much and I realized that if Jack is gay- and I won't know this for quite some time, but if he is gay, I don't ever want him to go back and read that very special poem and think for one second that my hopes and dreams for his life were wrapped up in him being married to a woman.  All I hope for him is that he is surrounded by more love than one heart can hold and that's what I tried to capture in that poem*.

Jack might be gay.  Those words will most likely sting some people I love very much, but they are words I need to come to terms with in the event that they're true.  Would I love him one bit less?  Absolutely, 100% no way, no how.  Would I be fearful or sad?  Sadly, yes.  I don't know how to raise this little ball of love in a world so deeply divided over something that to me seems so unbelievably simple and easy to embrace- the God of my understanding wants us to love everyone.  And if we can't love everyone, we shouldn't hurt them.  

Last summer, hundreds of people all across the country lined up to buy fast food chicken saying they were defending the 1st amendment.  But to me it sent a message that language intended to divide and judge is to be commended and celebrated and sponsored.  I can ignore the words of one man but I can't ignore the sight of people cheering and rallying to support him.  And maybe there was a time in my life when I could, but when I held that baby in my arms for the first time, I swore that I would love and defend him with all my might.  And what if they were all cheering against my own precious son?

As a mother I have to take a very clear and firm stance on this issue and be an advocate for the rights of my dear friends who only wish to be married to their partners and given all of the rights and privileges they deserve.  If not for my own children then for the thousands of children who live in fear of coming out to their families and friends; the children who are jumping off of bridges, crippled with anxiety and self-loathing.  I didn't carry my son for 38 weeks to love him "only if" or "only when".  I carried my boy into this earth to love him and protect him for as long as I can.

And Jack, I love you no matter what.  It is my heart's greatest desire that the love that overflows in your heart today never diminishes as the years go by.  I hope you find a partner to stand by you and love you for all the days of your life.  Please don't ever be afraid of who you are.  You were created by love, born by love and raised by love.  You are 1 part me and 1 part daddy, 1 part uniquely you and 100% deserving of love.

We love you Jack for all that you are and will be.  The end. 

*But Jack, I want grandchildren.  This is non-negotiable.