Tomorrow our son turns 7 years old. How is that possible? There are some things that are so easy to recall even now. How amazed I was when I saw the positive result on the pregnancy test on our 10th wedding anniversary. The look on Mike's face when I told him and our subsequent debate over whether or not to go to the water park like we had planned to celebrate our anniversary. After all, there are signs all over the park stating that pregnant women "should not ride". How pregnant is too pregnant for a water slide? We went and had a great time.
I also clearly remember the night that we burned out the motor on our vacuum cleaner when we let it run for "white noise" in an attempt to get Cal to stop crying.
We've been through an overnight hospital stay for bowl obstruction with Cal, ongoing ear infections that finally resulted in him getting tubes, and "Blue Dog" going MIA for two weeks. We've had to get rid of "worry monsters" and work through school anxieties.
Somehow in those seven years, Cal has become this amazing kid despite his parent's short comings. He is compassionate and sensitive, can be totally halarious, loves to read, is sometimes too smart for his own good and fully immerses himself in whatever he happens to be interested in at the moment.
There is no way to prepare yourself for being a parent. Books can only tell you so much, well meaning friends or family can give you advice, but it's your own heart that really tells you what is right for you and your child. When I slow down enough to listen, Cal can teach me something new every single day.
Somehow it's easy to doubt myself when it comes to how I interact with my kids. But, when I really think about it, we must be doing something right. We've been honest with the kids about Mike's cancer. By keeping that dialogue going we will also talk with them about Lynch Syndrome when the time feels right.
Last week I was in New Orleans for the 5th time since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf area. I spent a week painting the inside of a house owned by a woman with a 15 year old son. Estelle had just purchased her home and was in the process of moving in when she was forced to evacuate. Estelle and her son, who was just 10 years old at the time, have never lived in their home. For more than 5 years they have gone back and forth between the FEMA trailer in the front yard, her mom's house in a nearby neighborhood and Baton Rouge where Estelle found a job following Katrina. Five years of slowly putting a house together that sustained wind and flood damage. Five years after dealing with corrupt contractors that took advantage of so many people following the hurricane. Yet, this is her home - that's why she slowly rebuilds. She is doing the best she can for her son with what she has. That's all any of us can do.
Happy Birthday Cal. I love you forever and always, no matter what.