Fifteen Years Old

Fifteen years ago I awaited your birth. You were late. 8 days late. Which isn’t really surprising now that I know you because you really do have a tendency to move extremely slow, but I think you just like taking your time. As you surely did back then.

Being pregnant with you was one of the easiest things I’ve ever experienced. Awaiting your arrival was one of the hardest. Before I even had my 5 month ultrasound, when they would tell me whether you were a boy or girl, I already knew I wanted a boy. I had hoped and prayed you were a boy.

And that day they told me you were. I was ecstatic. Your father was ecstatic.

I planned and prepared those last four months. You were wanted my dear, you were loved.

Naming you however was a complication I wasn’t prepared for. Your father and I had very different ideas of what your name should be. I was the writer. Since I was a kid I sketched out what I would name my kids. I liked strong, classic names. Names that had deep roots in literature and mythology. I wanted to name you Nathaniel. Lucas. Gabriel. Your father wasn’t having any of this.

He wanted to name you Johnny. After his favorite guitarist, Johnny Hickman from the band Cracker. That did not go over well with me. We both lost.

During those last few months of pregnancy I found myself standing in your grandmother’s kitchen with her and your great-grandfather. We were talking names. They laughed over the fact that we were still having problems naming you. Suddenly a name popped into my head, Charles. I loved the strength of it. How classic it sounded. I loved it.

An odd look came over your grandmother’s face when I said the name. I didn’t know why but it was a look of melancholy not disgust. It turns out that this was the name of your grandfather’s father. Someone I never knew as he had died many years before I ever came around the family. I honestly never knew his name. So I think the fact that I came up with it there in the kitchen that day surprised us all.

It was perfect. I told your father that night and he smiled so big I knew it was the right choice.

We waited a short while to tell your grandfather, it was a surprise. We told him father’s day weekend on the way up to the family cottage in Wisconsin. He cried in the car. He was so happy you were going to take the name of his father.

The middle name was a breeze compared to your first name. Both of your grandfather’s shared the same first name so that was the logical choice for your middle.

Things proceeded like normal. We eventually found an apartment and moved out of your grandparents a few weeks before you were born. You were due July 2nd. I was kind of excited and hoping you’d make an appearance on the 4th. But those days passed.

It was hotter than Hades.

Your aunt and I shared the same Dr and she had your cousin Mia just a couple of months before you were due. There was an issue with Mia and the Dr was terrified of a repeat performance, thinking your aunt and I were one and the same so she kept a close eye on both of us after that.

There was an issue and I was told you were probably going to have to be born by a C-section. You just refused to make an appearance.

After a week she told me to come in on the 10th. That morning I was sent to Hinsdale Hospital to be induced. All of your grandparents were there at some point or another. I honestly wasn’t that scared. I think I was more frightened of the horrible hair I had been sporting the last few weeks and how I’d look in pictures later(horrible, I have proof).

I knew I would love you. I knew you would be fantastic.

After several hours of being induced and you still being the most stubborn baby on the planet, the Dr came and announced she was going to lunch but “in an hour we’ll proceed with the C-section”. I was too tired and excited to really care by the lunch part. Your dad almost missed me being wheeled into the operating room. He had gone to get something to eat himself. He arrived about one minute before I was to go in.

It didn’t take long. You arrived. You were cleaned up and handed to your dad. Who showed you to me and the first words out of my mouth” he has my nose. No one has my nose”. Which is true. You and I are the only ones in all of my extended family that has this nose. I have no idea where it came from. Next I noticed you had my mouth.

Later it became a joke that if people really didn’t know any better they wouldn’t know you were your father’s son. You looked like me from day 1. So much like me it was scary. And it was that way through most of your life. The blond hair, the large dark eyes. Now you’re starting to look like your dad. Which I think could spell trouble as you go further into your teen years.

We gave you the best of what we had when you were little, you were my one and only. You were so good-natured and sweet. So inquisitive and creative. You still are.

Later things were rough. Your father and I divorced. Though we have always stayed friends, making sure that when we both remarried and had other children our families were close. We just knew it was for the best and we never hated each other. We just grew apart.

After that you had some school difficulties. There were other issues at hand.  ADHD and Aspergers. You’ve always been this amazing child.

I have always loved you. We have always loved you. You’ve weathered many a storm both personally, emotionally and physically. You’ve always managed to pull through and I know that you have my strength to persevere through it all. So you always will continue to do so.

I know I’ve been hard on you, but that’s only because I want you to be the best you can be. Even if it means you sometimes hate me.

The teenage years were never something I would be prepared for. The first couple years were the worst because of your conflicting hormones and that always lanky body growing taller and taller. You’re 5’8 and towering over me and if you inherited your Grandpa Niemann’s genes as we suspect you have, you’ll be minimum 6’2.

This year you’ve had the most amazing growth, both physically and emotionally. I see you getting stronger. I’m starting to see little glimpses into who you may be some day down the road, into the future.

In one month you start High School. And with everything you’ve gone through I admit I’m a bit scared, but like you I’m excited. Because I think this could be when you come into You.

However it was yesterday you turned 15. You’re no longer a little kid. There’s such a big difference between 14 and 15. And I’m seeing it now more than I ever thought I could.

I’m proud of you. I enjoy being with you. I’m looking forward to the next few years of you as a teenager and helping you navigate those murky waters. Next year you’ll start driving.

But for now…

I will Love you always, no matter what.

Happy Birthday Charlie, you’re still one of the most amazing accomplishments in my life!!



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2 responses to “Fifteen Years Old

  1. Adrianne

    I don’t know why but I just balled my head off reading this. Maybe its because we both share custody of our first, maybe that I, too, have a growing boy and am in the midst of navigating those challenging waters….not sure, but this was beautifully written and deeply affecting. You and your remarkable son share something wonderfully fine and rich. Congratulations on arriving at this place in your journey!

  2. Cristin

    What a beautiful blog post, Jen. I remember visiting you in the hospital after Charlie was born.

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