Hello, Goodbye

It seemed our life as parents had just begun when we packed our son off to college

"Don't give up. I need your best effort. Now!" my doctor said.

The nurse leaned close. "Robin, listen." She motioned with her head.

"Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war …" the hymn thrummed, timely, from the radio. My husband pushed from behind. I gathered my strength and breath and fought for my firstborn's entry into the world.

"A boy!" The nurse placed him in my arms.

This is the first goodbye. You'll never be as close again.

What kind of thought is that to have when a couple, childless for a dozen years, becomes a family? I thrust his adulthood at least 18 years into the future and asked my husband, "What do you think—David or Daniel?" We studied the tiny, pinched-red face.

"David. He looks like a David."

Changes ensued. When I'd been pregnant and carried nothing but a handbag, crowds parted for me like the Red Sea for Moses. Men bounded to open doors wide. But once David filled my arms, I could juggle the baby carrier, stroller, diaper bag, purse, guitar, three bags of groceries and a couple of pacifiers without a soul offering assistance. Our house bulged with crib, rocker-recliner, changing table, wind-up swing, and portable playpen. We stepped over diaper bag, bounce seat, car seat, packages of diapers and the dog lounging in the Kanga-Rocka-Roo.

I rocked David, and he rocked my world.

"Hush, little baby, don't say a word …" I tried to sing him to sleep. But every time, David lit up like a jukebox with a new quarter in it. I picked up the latest of at least a dozen parenting books I'd bought. None of them said a mother might memorize every centimeter of her child's face—and never tire of counting fingers and toes.

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