20 years ago today at 12:17pm in a hospital in Kirkland, WA, a most momentous thing happened.
Wolfgang was born.
He made his very celebrated entrance (and well-attended…there were like 12 people in the room when he was born) into this world much like he’s spent his last 20 years, inquisitive, very serious and just a little bit grumpy (but not too much). He gave me a couple of pretty bad scares when he was little, and his shenanigans for a few months landed him in the hospital…until the time his little heart had some struggles and he was in the ICU for 10 days.
The nurses and doctors told me every day to prepare for the worst, that we might lose him that day. I was a 21 year old single mom, and my baby had just turned 2 and I was being told I was going to lose him.
I don’t remember a lot of those days spent in the hospital, but I do remember the feeling of clenching up to hold it together during those first few days and never really unclenching again until recently, when Wolfgang left for college.
Wolfgang and I got a literal miracle on day ten, though. We were incredibly lucky. The doctors told us on our last day in the ICU (we didn’t even get stepdown care, they actually released him straight from the ICU) that they couldn’t figure out what had caused this problem, the problem “seems to have gone away” and it never came back.
I worried about him all the time from there on out. I never coddled him or helicopter-mommed him, I just was a clenched fist of worry. All the time. I checked on him every night multiple times for years after that last hospital visit, convinced he had stopped breathing. Every phone call from his school, I answered convinced that the other person was going to tell me something grievously wrong had happened.
I worried all.the.time, but I also let him live his life. I didn’t try to live vicariously through him. I did volunteer for almost anything his school or activities put out there, so I could meet his teachers and his friends and his friends’ moms, so I always had an idea of what he was doing every day, and who he was with.
He made choices I sometimes struggled with. He quit football and I (mostly) kept my mouth shut, even though it broke my heart. He started playing the trumpet, I stocked up on earplugs and Excedrin. He started up theatre and I had to bite my tongue to stop from word-vomiting at him about all MY theatre tricks and tips (and stories).
I still worry a little. He’s off at college, he’s hanging out with people whose moms I DO NOT KNOW, and about 90% of the time, I don’t know where he is or what he’s doing.
But that’s part of being a mom.
You raise them up the best you know how, and then you unclench and let them go. And it’s so freaking hard. He’s been my closest ally and my constant companion for nearly 20 years.
But he’s 20 years old today. Twenty. I am literally sobbing and trying to type this through my tears, but he is TWENTY.
The age I was exactly when I got pregnant with him.
This is the age our paths diverge. I do not know how to be a 20 year old who doesn’t have to worry about pregnancy or diapers or birth classes. I don’t know what it’s like to stay in college and know what you want to study and go after it with gusto.
So I will be here on the sidelines for him, cheering him on as he takes unfamiliar paths through life, being there for him when he needs me and taking a step back to let him take a step into an independent adult.
I hope he always knows how much I love him and how much I appreciate his patience with me through his whole life, as I royally screw up parenting and do the best I can.
Happy birthday, Wolfgang. You are awesome.