I’ve been a seriel dater since I was fifteen-years-old. But I’ve only been in love once.
I could hear Jennifer screaming and moaning down the hallway at the Elizabeth Seton Birthing Center, but I still managed to doze off in front of “Cheers.” Could have been the beers. Could have been that it was well after midnight. Either way, when Christofer — pale, drawn, and exhausted but wide-eyed — gently woke me and said, surprised, “It’s a boy,” I noticed the stillness that had fallen over the place.
Moments later, he ushered me into the birthing room, and I saw him there in his blue blanket and white beanie. My jaw fell slack. My mind went blank. And my chest filled with the light and warmth of a thousand stars.
The first time I held him, Ethan put his little fingers to his chin, looked up at me in his first moments of sight, and puzzled me out. I held him like fine china, wrapping my arms around every inch of his tiny, new life. I cradled him, rocked him gently, and sang to him.
Remembering that moment now, I felt weightless, but terrestrial. I felt so present, yet so insignificant. I was awed, but cautious. My sole objective, I knew in that instant, was to shower this new life in all of the warmth, joy, safety and support that I could muster.
I’ve watched Ethan grow up from just a few blocks away. He has changed from a chubby, featureless little baby, to a handsome little boy. He has transformed from an expressionless, motionless bundle, to a climbing, jumping, laughing and smiling toddler.
Ethan is a guileless, kinetic whirlwind, always rushing, always probing, rarely afraid. And so I find myself afraid for him. Afraid of traffic, of heights, of uncertainty. Of course, there’s nothing I can do to stop the bumps, breaks and bruises that he will sustain in his great and long life. But I would if I could.
I am sure that I will have a son or daughter some day. And I am certain that the love and subsequent worry I feel for Ethan will only deepen with time. Maybe that’s what love means. Maybe that’s what it feels like. But I have a few baby steps of my own to take.
I called my father last night. In the course of our conversation I said, “I bought a couch. I bought matching luggage. What next!?!”
He laughed and said, “Marriage?”