Thursday, November 8, 2007

Waiting for Graham - 2 years on

* In four days Graham will be two years old. Last night I stumbled across this long-forgotten essay I wrote exactly two years ago today. I have never published or shared it. Save the links I have added, it is unedited. Reading it today I am struck by how much has changed and yet how little. It seems like yesterday: the breathless anticipation, the fear, the excitement. And the love. Even before I kissed his sweet face, the love.*

November 8, 2005: I can’t be sure when he will decide to show his face.

He might thwart a daily routine I have planned or even violently rouse me from a peaceful sleep. Before he settles in I expect to experience anxiety, fear and unimaginable pain.

And yet Graham’s arrival is the most happily anticipated event of my life thus far.

I am currently pregnant with my first child. My due date is the day after tomorrow.

My baby is a boy, of this I am sure. A product of my generation and perhaps too accustomed to instant gratification, the thought of letting the sex be a surprise seemed too impossibly self-disciplined to consider. My husband and I have snuck a peek at every opportunity, even forking out for a 4-D colour ultrasound during which we marveled over our son’s long, thin features so much like his father’s.

We have decided to call him Graham. It’s my family name and a nod to the large, sprawling Irish-Canadian clan which eagerly awaits his appearance. He will carry his father’s middle and last names.

But there are other things of which I am not so sure: so many things.

I am a mass of contradictory emotions and I never know which one will surface at any given moment. Tears rise unbidden. Yesterday while sipping my morning tea I wept with joy imagining my mother reading Graham a bedtime story. Just a few nights earlier I glanced at my husband and an overwhelming wave of sadness and fear washed over me. Our marriage is so happy, our lifestyle so carefree. What if things are never fun again? What if family life sucks the life out of us? What if I, dressed to the nines, never again enjoy his appreciative glance as we head out for a night on the town?

Every day I pray that Graham will be healthy. That he will arrive chubby and pink with a lusty cry. I cannot consider anything else. Sometimes I push myself to think about what could go wrong, as a kind of exercise in mental strength and preparedness, but the knot of fear in my chest stops me cold. One can never prepare to face their worst nightmare. It is fruitless to try.

I have been off work for only a week but already time has started to stretch out endlessly. I feel lazy and languid. I putter. I sleep. I daydream. I wait.

I wonder what kind of a child my son will be, what kind of a man will he become?

Will he be serious, introverted and scientific? Will he be outgoing and dramatic?

Will he inherit the same passion for music his father has?

I imagine my husband and me, 20 years on, occupying an out-of-the-way table in a dingy pub when Graham performs his first gig. I can already feel my face flush with pride and picture his good-natured acquiescence when we insist on discreetly picking up the tab for a round of drinks for his friends.

Will he be nutty for airplanes like his mother and so many members of my family?

I imagine his bush pilot grandfather standing to applause when Graham, piloting his first commercial airline flight, introduces him as an inspiration to the other passengers.

I feel a little foolish exposing such fantasies to the light of day. It seems I am already a walking cliché. Although I’m not even a mom yet, I am already filled with hopes and dreams for my son.

And for me, I guess.

Already I sense that this will be the hardest part of parenting – separating the hopes and dreams I have for him from the hopes and dreams he has for himself.

I’ve heard it said that deciding to have a child is agreeing to let your heart walk around outside your body for the rest of your life. That sounds about right to me. I already know that it involves ceding power over much of your happiness, much of your destiny.

I know there are ways Graham could hurt me that I can barely now imagine. He might be contemptuous of my interests and pursuits. He might reject the values his grandparents hold dear. He might spend a lifetime clashing with my stubborn husband, never once recognizing the extraordinary kindness and sensitivity his father also possesses.

My son may break my heart in many ways, but I’m grateful I can’t foresee exactly how. There are things no parent is able to control. Our children will be who they will be.

My only job is to try my best. To be steadfast and firm, but also loving and patient. I may indulge in hopes and dreams, but I must also remain confident that Graham will direct the course of his own life, just as he will decide the time and nature of his arrival.

And so I wait.

I wait for Graham to reveal his dreams to me. I wait for the secrets of humankind to unfold through the joy and pain of parenting. I wait to learn things I don’t even realize I don’t yet know.

I wait to meet my son.

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ms blue said...

This is so beautiful. It makes my heart skip a beat.

Graham will cherish this when he's older.

Karen MEG said...

What a lovely post, and so wonderful that you captured all of that emotion, your dreams, anticipation so beautifully before your son was born. Must just warm your heart so, it certainly did mine.
Happy birthday to Graham. He is a lucky little boy.
I remember being pregnant with my first child, that song by Savage Garden, "I knew I loved you"... it resonated with me. I knew it was more of a girl/boy love song, but to this day when I hear it, it brings me back to that special time.
Thanks for sharing!

Laura said...

Just a wonderful post! It is amazing how much changes in such little time - and how much more is yet to come!

Kayris said...

Very lovely post! It's amazing how quickly it goes!

Gabriella said...

this is beautiful, your son will treasure this one day. thanks for sharing it with us.

Shauna said...

What a wonderful piece. A real treasure.

Anonymous said...

That is so lovely. I wish I had had the foresight to write a letter like this before the birth of my children, particularly the first (who would have time after that??). What a beautiful thing to pass along to him.

That photo is wonderful by the way. Graham looks like a little tiny copy of what he looks like now. Very rare with newborns!