When we got pregnant for the second time, I was convinced the baby would be a girl, maybe just because it’s hard to imagine oneself as the parent of a different gender than you’re used to. Part of me even thought I wanted another girl more than a boy.
But when we went to find out at twenty weeks, I was lying on the table with my husband and 3-year-old daughter by my side, and the nurse said, “Well…it’s a boy,” and I just wept tears of happiness. The overwhelming happiness took me by surprise. I looked at Dennis and couldn’t believe we would have a son. I saw myself differently, immediately. I assumed I’d get down and dirty, I’d have to relax more, let things get a little rougher around the edges. And there is something about getting to say the words, “My son.” Suddenly I understood the whole mama’s boy thing, and I hadn’t even met him yet.
Jack came out of my belly mad, mad, mad. I didn’t care – I was so happy to see him. I said to the nurse, “I have to remember how wonderful his crying sounds a month from now,” and she said, “I like that.”
And then they laid him on my chest and he settled down after a while. Since then, he’s been a happy baby. No joke. Of course he’s had his moments and phases: days of whininess, clinginess, frustration over the things he doesn’t yet know how to do, frustration over the many things he’s not allowed to do. But you know when people say, “He’s a good, happy baby”? We got one of those. He even learned to sleep through the night around the appropriate time. I feel so lucky.
Jack will smile at a stranger across the restaurant until they notice him and wave. He wants to attract attention, but he does it in the most charming way, waiting patiently, approaching gently. He’s begun to hide his face in my torso when he feels shy, but when he peeks back out, he’s still smiling, and the cuteness effect is even stronger. Jack is friendly. He might even be an extrovert. I have no idea how our genes managed to produce a social butterfly.
He is also an imp. I’m guessing this gene comes from my mom. His curiosity drives him to get into EVERYTHING, and when I say “No!” he will tilt his head coyly and smile at me while his hand continues to reach for that electrical cord. I grab him up and nuzzle him as he screams in protest. But we always know the storm will pass quickly. Jack can move on. He’s pretty laid-back that way.
I want to eat this boy alive, in all his growling boy-ness. I can’t get enough of his soft skin, feathery hair, huge perfectly round head on a tiny neck, red bow-tie mouth. He is incandescent, golden, crusted with baby food. I don’t care about the constant stains on his shirts. I’ve given up trying to keep him clean. I kiss him even when he’s getting into trouble. I just can’t help myself. I call him “Little One.”
Jack is into all the boy things: balls, wheels, electronics, freedom to run. I have never been interested in any of these things. Except maybe freedom. But I probably wouldn’t run if I had freedom to do whatever I wanted; I’d curl up in bed and read Jane Austen. So yeah, Jack and I don’t exactly have much in common, but that fascinates me. I love his “otherness” – the fact that I am an introspective lady, and he is a gung-ho Boy. We fit together like puzzle pieces. I am relaxed when I get down on the floor and watch him go to town with a fire engine. It’s a good contrast to the complicated girl games I’ve been playing, with all those back-stories and emotions and things that have to be just so. And he is freaking tough. He falls down all the time without giving it a second thought, as if he knows that’s just part of life. “Mom, I’m busy here – you don’t have to fuss over me.” What a relief.
We never knew what we’d do with a boy; we were afraid a boy would climb the walls and only like sports and cars, which we are not exactly experts on, being the artsy, sensitive types that we are. Turns out none of that stuff matters. It’s good to have a member of the family who has already brought in a fresh take on what constitutes fun.
Thank God for this Jackety-Jack.