Look how cute you are. I mean, your happy to screaming ratio has entered a much more manageable bracket. We’re really happy about that, so keep it up, kid.
Here’s the deal: your parents are Stephen and Katie. There is a special grace from God over your life simply because of this. You’re going to be…unique. And I think you’re going to be…hard to phase, not easily surprised, not responsive to loud noises and potentially have an odd sense of humor. This, as your dad and I have discussed at great length, is going to be problematic should we live in say a neighborhood where loud noises indicate trouble and a timely reaction is necessary for survival. You may hear something and just assume it’s your mom laughing or spilling water or remembering something. So. There’s that.
We have done, and will probably continue to do, lots of things that have elicited questions and comments from those observing. Some are funny and mean nothing and others, well, those speak to something much deeper about what we believe about family and God and what we are intentionally doing to create a specific culture in our family.
An example of this that is just, well, normal and means nothing comes from an innocent car ride that happened last week. I love Katy Perry. I do. I know who I am. Anyway, when I was pregnant with you I listened to her musical stylings daily. And not super quietly. And I like to turn the bass up. Now, as I’ve mentioned before, you like to talk to us. Sometimes that talking is more like, oh, screaming inconsolably. Especially in the car. We, in sheer desperation to find solutions to all this newborn joy, have discovered that you love love love music. And, because God has a sick sense of humor, you seem to prefer the finer works of Katy Perry. Specifically a haunting melody entitled “Dark Horse”. You like this song to be playing loudly, with the bass turned up.
Cool. FOR A DAY. Two months? Well, let’s just say I am a little less in love with KP than before. (Your dad is happy about that.)
Anyway, we do what we gotta do to get to wherever we need to go. So this one particular sunny, warm day, you decided to lose your sweet little mind in the car. No big. I turned that stereo to track six and let my slammin’ Ford Focus sub pound away until my mirrors were vibrating. Like I said, it was warm, so my windows were (all of them) down. And, little Shep, we live on a substantially busy street. A street that attracts lots of pedestrians who like to shop. People in nice cars with lots of money. People who push babies that do not scream in really nice strollers while sipping expensive drinks.
So, baby Shepherd, there we are. Me and you. And Katy Perry and Juicy J. AND ALL OF GRAND AVENUE. We roll up to a red light, windows down, you screaming louder than the music, my car vibrating with white girl rap and all of the best, richest, coolest parents in the world WALKING PAST MY CAR LOOKING AT ME AND PULLING OUT THEIR PHONES TO CALL CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES.
I mean, not really, but I did get some looks. And welcome to the rest of your life. It’s funny and whatever.
But there are some things we do that people don’t seem to get that I want to explain to you. Because, my love, we’re doing them intentionally.
Right now your dad is in the hospital for his third and final surgery in this long process of having his colon removed. During his first two surgeries, you and I (you were much more compact and easier to travel with then, being IN me and all) stayed with him in the hospital. Slept there each night and were there for everything. More than once, especially with the second surgery when I was like 30 weeks pregnant with you, people made comments about me staying there. These comments insinuated that it was weird or irresponsible or not the right choice for you and your health to stay.
Well, we obviously disagreed. Dad and I are lucky enough to have life that allows us to do a lot of things, big things like doctor visits and hospital stays, together. He works, I don’t. So I can be with him when I want/need to. We also believe that when we’re going through the hardest, scariest things, we need each other. That’s one of the many, many reasons God gave us each other. Dad has said a number of times that he would not have made it through this without me. And I know when I was in labor with you, dad’s support and constant presence held me through. So, when he (and therefore me) was facing this hard stuff, I was there. I was there to advocate for him when he was in pain and wasn’t being listened to, I was there to hold his hand when he was sad, I was there to help him shower. I was there.
I slept a lot. I ate well. I took showers and my vitamins and prayed and brought my pregnancy pillow Aunt Jess gave us. I was taking care of dad and I was taking care of you. Sure the cot wasn’t super comfy, but you know what’s even worse? Stress and anxiety and worrying about dad.
See, by loving dad, Shep, I’m loving you. And dad feels the best way he can love you is by loving me.
So now that you are living outside of my body and require much more to keep you, well, alive, we’re not sleeping at the hospital with dad. But, to the disapproval of some people who don’t understand us, we are spending a lot of time there each day with him. As a family. And, as a matter of fact, even though you are only 9 weeks old, you got to spend like 12 straight hours with Grandma LeeAnn, away from me, so I could be at the hospital while dad was in surgery. And that wasn’t super easy for me; I missed you a ton and worried about you (…and I didn’t need to at all because Grandma is great with you) and felt some guilt for leaving such a little baby for so long. But, it was the right choice.
Because we’re a family. And without dad, we’re not complete. And I love you best by loving dad first, taking care of him and making sure your home in us is as secure as we can make it.
And because, sweet baby, we’re each other’s best friends. We’re moving across the world, just the three of us. This is it. We are what we have, and we’re damn lucky. In this family, when one of us is hurting or sick or in pain, we will show up.
Some day you’re going to get hurt, especially if you have mom’s sense of balance and grace and just general awesome reflexes, and you’re going to be in a hospital. Or you’re going to get picked on. Or your heart will be broken. Or just life will happen. And guess what? You won’t be alone.
And more than that, son, you can count on mom and dad always taking care of each other. As long as we’re able and healthy, we are going to put the other one first so you can have two happy, loving parents as long as God allows. Because we love you. Because we love you so much it hurts, we will love and take care of each other.
So, kid, good luck with us. Some of it, you’re just going to have to deal the best you can. We will play weird music and do things that people don’t understand and think are silly.
But when it matters, know that we’re not just haphazardly guessing and halfheartedly hoping things turn out well. We’re doing what we do because it makes you stops screaming or communicates the level of commitment we have to this family.
So, buckle up.
And please, for the LOVE OF GOD, pick a different song to love.