I remember being pregnant with Dylan and heading off to the movies one night when the heat was unbearable and our apartment in Dorchester was sweltering. We saw two movies that night: The Lion King and Forrest Gump. I know, right? After The Lion King, Pat told me that when his son was born he was going to hold the baby up over his head as the sun pours from the sky, highlighting the new prince. A little over the top but it was his first. Who am I to judge?
We didn’t know at that time what I was having and I had no intention of finding out. I needed a carrot at the end of the stick. A surprise ending for a job well done. Pat, however, just knew that it was a boy. His heir. He was right. Proving there's a first time for everything. (No sir baby, ILY!). When I went into labor a few days early, the nursery was already decorated and the name picked out. Honestly though for about three months after he was born, I was convinced that I had named him the wrong name.
It was a long delivery. Not really difficult just stubborn. He moved at his own pace even then. Deliberate. Sixteen years later not much has changed. He still likes to take his time and his own path. It took me a while to understand that being a successful parent, at least to him, was not how well he fit into my plans for his life but rather how well I adapted my parenting to help him find his path.
He always had his own rhythm and when he was younger it wasn’t a problem. However, once he started first grade, the struggle to get him to shift gears began in earnest. In second grade, he had an amazing teacher (shout out to the amazing Kathy Lansing from Cold Spring Elementary School). I remember having a conversation with her where she told me how much she loved when Dylan participated in group discussions since his perspective on what they were reading was very different than the other children and even her own. She told me that he would pick a character or an event or an idea that no one else saw; that he saw the different and the forgotten and as a teacher she appreciated that and hoped that he would keep his point of view as he got older.
His laid back surfer-dude personality has driven Pat and I crazy over the past several years (we’re both a little high-strung) but lately I’ve tried to take a more zen-like attitude when dealing with him. He’s his own person; unique and grounded in a way a lot of teens are not. He will forge his own path and he will own every step. I like talking to him. Our conversations are usually filled with laughter and end with me being amazed, once again, by his character and point-of-view.
I’ve kept that conversation with Mrs. Lansing in my mind during the intervening years and I use it to remind myself to respect his nature and his spirit. This is, after all, his life and his journey. His dad and I are here to help him get it started, not to steer it for him.
I’m just glad that I get to be a part of it.
Barbara Mulvey-Welsh is a mother, writer and blogger raising kids and a husband in Plymouth. Check out her blog at "Did I Say That Out Loud?" Use caution when reading around the family, there is some strong language.