On this day seventeen years ago, my precious first born son, Noah Nathaniel, burst into my world. It has been an incredible adventure with him in our lives, and I am truly blessed. We were that couple who didn’t find out the gender of our child—I figured, what bigger joy than not knowing and all of a sudden hearing, “It’s a BOY!”
Of course, everyone thought I would be a mom of girls--given my love for fashion, accessories, flowers, color, and interior design, but being a mom of boys has been a huge answer to prayer. No braiding hair, no sparkly shoes, no big bows and headbands, no Barbies, pink, or lace. Just solid boy—who stopped letting me pick out his polo shirts and khakis from Baby Gap long ago and has set his own trend and style—both fashion wise and personality wise, ever since.
I remember the early years—he always wanted a “Spot” story that we had to create before bedtime or the routine wasn’t complete. I remember his Imaginary Friends from “Boy Meets World”—Cory, Sean, and Topanga—who would help us pray at dinner and who I had to get seat belted into the mini van before we could take off for any outing. I remember some of his “first words” being “inappropriate” and “fragile” and how he would squeal with delight when Dada came home from work with a “prize”—usually a piece of candy from the corner 7-11 (which by the way he called Seven Elema).
I remember his early love of art and music and how he would sit in his room and write lyrics to songs in his journal (I always wanted a Loy Boy garage band). Maybe that is why today he can “rap” about anything—I hear he raps about history, math, and soccer, and the day in general—the “flow” just comes naturally. I remember when we thought for sure he was a “lefty” and then somewhere around the age of three became dominant with his right hand for writing and eating. But his LEFT has still been dominant—he is left footed at soccer and can throw left and play most sports with his right and left.
I remember sitting with him in my arms when he was just a few weeks old—looking down at him all still and peaceful and I started bawling as I held him. I was thinking about how he was my first born son and it reminded me of God and how Jesus came to earth in humility—as a human baby—completely dependent on his mother Mary. For a long moment I could not understand the depth of God’s love, that he could allow his precious son to die a death on a cross for me, and for my little son. That night I understood a mother’s love for her child in a deeper, richer way, and I began to get a small glimpse at the immensity of God’s love and how unfathomable it still seems to be when we try to reduce it to human understanding.
I remember the phases and seasons Noah has gone through—the skater years with the beanies and leather wrist bands, the surfer and skim board days—growing his hair long and looking like a little hippie (but a cute hippie at that). I remember trying the different sports—baseball, gymnastics, lacrosse, soccer—and finally settling on and pursuing soccer. I remember when he actually loved reading (mysteries) and we would have summer family reading nights out on our poolside cabana. I remember teaching him how to cook the basic things—scrambled eggs, grilled cheese, milk shakes, chocolate chip cookies (you know—enough to get by as a college kid) and how he still likes it when his mom makes him his snack or the family meal—it’s just what a MOM does.
Now here he is 17—driving his little classic 1974 car around town, searching for colleges that will be a good fit for his athletic and academic pursuits, hanging out with friends in every free moment, griping about chores and giving attitude as in saying “What?” with tone to every question I ask. (And of course he claims there is “no tone” in his response).
Now here he is at 17—a typical teen (yes we are certainly NOT a perfect family). The clothes land on the floor right NEXT to the laundry basket, the chores get done at the last minute and sometimes not done to my standards, half filled water bottles litter the perimeter of his room, his idea of dusting is taking dirty boxer shorts and skimming the top of his dresser, the family unit is secondary to the friend group, and any question or comment I make is “dorky” or stupid…..I have vowed to stop speaking to him until he is 20 (to which he grins and says I can’t do that).
But he is my kid—and I will take every part of him I can get. He still never leaves the house without giving me a hug and an “I love you”, and he still kisses me good night before bedtime. He still enjoys the family dinner every once in awhile where we have crazy, dysfunctional family conversations. He still lets me wake him up on weekends when I crawl on his bed and give him a kiss and attempt to snuggle (until our dog with separation anxiety jumps up with us and ruins the moment). He still will be seen in public with me, (unless I cross the line and put one toe in the student section of the Poway High football stands), and he still (begrudgingly at times) realizes that his mom really is pretty wise and truly has “been there before.”
On this day I celebrate my Noah. My Noah who has a faith that is his own—not some prefabricated faith that comes from growing up in a “churched” family. A faith that has been refined by struggles with identity and friendships and sports and frustrations and a mom who has had cancer for the past 18 months. A faith that is demonstrated in his compassion for others, his sportsmanship on the soccer field (and in life) and by the life of integrity he leads. It is a faith that is defined through his words and his actions. To know Noah is to love him and to know Noah is to know a glimpse of Jesus.
On this day I was forever changed.