It seems my grandson Cooper has found his voice. The pediatrician warned them this was coming, but I’m not sure his parents were ready. Cooper seemed to be in a good routine, and he was rarely fussy.
BUT, then it happened. On May 4th, I received a photo of Cooper donned in the appropriate Star Wars apparel (May the fourth be with you). The text under the picture said, “Cooper definitely chose the Dark Side last night.”
I spoke to my son later that day, and he explained that as long as Cooper was being held, he was alright–he didn’t want to be swaddled or sleep in his bassinet. He followed those words by adding, “He slept fine in my arms, though. I don’t know if he will get spoiled if we hold him all the time.”
And I said, “Hold him.”
I remember wondering those very same things when I was a young mother. Am I starting bad habits? Will this cause him to be spoiled when he’s older? Will I ever sleep again?
I reflect on the days when my first-born, Christopher, pulled all-nighters. We were tired, and desperate, and ready to make a sweet deal with the devil himself if he could introduce us to Mr. Sandman.
One night, we turned on the radio as a last resort, and the song “Dumas Walker,” by the Kentucky Headhunters was playing. In a matter of seconds, Christopher stopped screaming and became very still and quiet.
Was he listening to the words and wondering, what the heck? I mean the song is about eatin’ a slaw burger with fries. It’s about drinkin’ and shootin’ marbles in the back of the store. But somehow, within a song that we didn’t really care for, Christopher found something soothing. I guess maybe the beat helped to put him in a trance, calm down, and fall asleep. Playing this otherwise unfortunate song became our “go-to” trick on those restless nights.
When Charles was a baby, we were up and down more than the stock market. We held him and rocked him, and pleaded with him to please sleep, since we had to work the next day. When he was a couple of months old, we discovered he loved the swing, and many nights, just like John Anderson sang, “He was a-swingin’.”
It’s so true that the days (and nights) are long, but the years are short. Time is fleeting. Before you know it, you will be in a new phase of life, marking down all the “firsts” on the calendar. Measuring his height, and weight, and smiles. It’s an exciting and bittersweet time.
It’s hard to watch him grow up so fast, but don’t spend time longing for those days. Never look back and ask time to slow down. I hear mothers say that all the time. I was never one of those moms who wanted her babies to stay babies. I enjoyed their accomplishments and milestones. Maybe it’s because I’ve known mothers who have lost children, who never had the privilege of watching them grow up. I’ve also known parents whose children will never ever really grow up–they were born with special needs, and will require lifelong care.
So don’t regret that your child is going to grow up. Simply embrace those times and make them matter. Take lots of pictures, and keep a scrapbook, and write the memorable things down. You’re going to laugh a lot, and cry a lot, too. It’s all a part of the magical combination merry-go-round/roller coaster ride that you are now on.
So, when you are unsure of what to do, simply hold him.
Smell that sweet scent that only a baby has. Touch that soft face, and snuggle him tightly as you rock him through the night.
And in a few years, when the monsters come, and he’s scared at night, hold him. Let him climb into bed, and nestle in between you.
And when he comes home from school, and his feelings are hurt, and people are unkind, hold him. Tell him it’s going to be okay. Remind him to always be kind, even when others aren’t.
And when he’s disappointed because he didn’t make the grade, or he had to play in right field, hold him. Remind him that these disappointments are good things–they will motivate him to work and try harder, to become better and stronger.
And when a girl breaks his heart, and his team loses in the playoffs, and he’s unsure of what his future holds, hold him.
And when he walks across the stage, and packs up his room, and you drop him off at college, hold him.
Over the years, I’ve been told how lucky I am to have such great boys. While it is always wonderful to know that people recognize the nice, kind, and thoughtful humans I helped to raise, I always want to correct them. There was nothing lucky about it.
Luck isn’t something that happens by chance– it’s when “preparation meets with opportunity.”
The “preparation” part consisted of day-in-and-day-out nagging, prompting, encouraging, correcting, disciplining, supporting and praying. Lots of praying and talks with Jesus.
It meant always choosing to be their parent and not their friend. Our boys didn’t have the top of the line phones, or a closet full of designer clothes, and their cars were either hand-me-downs or used. They always appreciated the things they had and never complained.
Raising kids is never easy, and there have been many tough times and mistakes. But, the most important lessons were learned from those difficult times and hopefully, their mistakes, mishaps and poor choices served to make them stronger and better.
There were numerous other people who had a hand in the development of our boys. People who helped shape them into the young men they are today. And that’s where the LUCK part comes in.
We have been lucky to have great family, friends, teachers, coaches, pastors, youth directors, employers and even strangers who have made been influential in positively impacting our sons and their lives. We are forever thankful to everyone who has contributed to their success.
It does take a village to raise a child, and we are so very blessed and fortunate to have lived in a place filled with precious individuals, families, and opportunities.
As I close, I want to say how wonderful I think it is that Cooper has found his voice. That he has become loud, and a little demanding. That he is wide awake during the wee hours of the morning, observing his surroundings, discovering his likes and dislikes. His individual spirit is being formed, and it is an amazing process to watch.
New parents: though you are tired, and overwhelmed, and learning a whole new skillset, keep holding on.
Pray. Listen. Love. Talk. Laugh. Cry…and hold him while you can.
And one day, in what seems like the blink of an eye, you will understand why you had to let go.
You will see the little boy you raised, holding his son, and you will understand the plan; the circle of life; the necessity of allowing him to go on his own adventure; clearing his own path, and making his own way.
And in that moment, you will remember how you once held him, and reassured him, and chased all the monsters away. And you will be comforted in knowing that he never let go, as he holds his young son in his lap, and you in his heart.
With much love,
~Sassy (my grandmother name)
May 7, 2020
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