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On the Horizon
January 15th, 2010

Gale and IEP (6 months)

Earlier this week I was leaving my gym one evening after work.  On my way out the door I passed a little boy, probably about seven years old.  He had dark blond hair, defined eyebrows, and slightly crooked teeth.  He was bundled up, about to walk out into the cold.  He was talking to his dad about his basketball game.  And he was just adorable. 

I rushed out the door eager to get home, not having seen IEP all day.  When I walked in the door I heard IEP and GAP playing downstairs and wandered down to find them amidst a mélange of Leggos.  IEP can’t yet put them together, but he can carry them, bang them, drop them, pick them up, and give them to us.  And that is quite diverting enough for him. 

He’d had a rough go of it at supper and GAP had opted for Leggos over bath, which was fine by me.  I joined in the play for a few minutes until the eye rubs became more frequent and a yawn or two passed his lips.  Then I scooped him up, nibbled on his plump cheek in just the way that makes him laugh, and carried him upstairs to get ready for bed. 

Once he was tucked in and talking himself to sleep my mind drifted back to the little boy at the gym.  With my sweet baby nodding off in the other room I wondered who he will be in five or six years’ time.  Today he is active – not high strung, but always going.  He loves our dogs.  Loves to take toys away from them just to give them back.  He loves spinach and hates meat.  He is outgoing and flirtatious.  He is a good sleeper.  But what of the future? 

Will he play basketball?  Will he a class clown or a hard worker?  Will he be an alpha on the playground?  Or will he follow his friends’ leads?  Will his hair stay blond, or darken with age?  Will he have brothers or sisters or both?  Will he like for me to read his bedtime stories, or will he want to read them himself.  Will he be talkative like his mom, or reserved like his dad? 

The story goes that when I was a baby my mom was holding me in her arms and said to my dad, “I wonder what she’ll look like when she’s grown.”  My father aptly responded, “She’ll look like Gale.” 

I think about that story, which I’ve heard dozens of times, and sometimes it helps to quell my curiosities.  IEP will be just like IEP.  I’ll never come home and not recognize him.  I’ll never hear his voice and not relish in it.  I’ll never feel his cheek against mine and not want to melt right there in that moment.

He will surprise me.  He will get into trouble.   He will make me laugh.  He will disappoint me.  He will change just a little bit every day.  He will always be mine and I his – inextricably linked forever, whatever may come our way.  

There are times – many times – when I want to jump ahead in this book.  I want a sneak peak.  A glance over the horizon.  A chance to glimpse the little boy (and eventually bigger boy) that he will become.  But I stop and remind myself that he will only be 13 months old for a few more days.  And he will only be 14 months old for about 30 days after that. 

Aidan posed this question of reading the pages of our lives a few weeks ago.  And for me, along with most others, the answer is, no, I would not like to see how the story ends.  But for IEP, my curiosity is stronger.  I still don’t want to skip to the end of the book, but perhaps just to jump ahead a chapter or two.  And were it not for the debilitating fear of missing the present I might take that chance if offered. 

But as it is, that offer has not yet availed itself, and presumably will not.  And for that I believe I am grateful.  Time should march at its own pace.  And I should table my curiosities and appreciate that pace for what it is.  For I’m sure my regrets would outweigh my curiosities if I missed one moment of the now to look into the future.

5 Responses to “On the Horizon”

  1. Anne Says:

    I think it’s so interesting that you’re far more interested in seeing IEP’s future than your own…even if you’d never take that opportunity if it presented itself. I can imagine being a parent leads to these questions all the time. I even wonder them myself as his aunt. but mostly I read this post and think…it must be so fun to be a parent.

  2. Laura Says:

    I love this post Gale. I often think about what my children will be like when they are older. MHH is now 5 and I remember years ago when I wondered what she would be like when she was in kindergarten, and beyond. Yet now I wonder how I didn’t know that she would be exactly who she is now. She is the same person in so many ways, it is amazing that I didn’t already know how her future would unfold (at least to this point since there aren’t too many options for kindergartners). But perhaps not knowing is a little gift from God – to be amazed by what our children do each day and each year. It sure makes parenting fun!
    My one other thought is that I try my very best not to tell my children what they should do when they grow up. There are a few things that are important to Kevin and me – like going to college. So we do talk about college like it’s a foregone conclusion to their future. But otherwise I don’t say anything about getting married, or about being married to the opposite gender, or about jobs, or about where they’ll live. It’s not always easy and sometimes we do joke about needing a mechanic, doctor, plumber, IT person in the family, but my hope is that as long as we instill in our children the values that are important to us (honesty, loyalty, caring, etc.), allowing them to find their own way in the context of those values will lead to a lifetime of being amazed by my awesome children! And hopefully happiness for them!

  3. Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities Says:

    “Time should march at its own pace.”

    Exactly and we really have no choice but to let it. I think it can be fun and fruitful to dream about the future and imagine its contours, but I think that spending too much time doing this – or lingering in the past can truly detract from life in the present. I love the anecdote about your parents. We will grow up to be who we are. So will our kids. The fascinating thing to see is who it is we become. And who it is they become. Yet another thought-provoking post. Thank you.

  4. Sarah Says:

    There is a very clear picture in my mind of my oldest son’s high school graduation. He’s in cap and gown with two brothers by his side. The three boys have tousled hair and ties all askew. One of them pulls some rabbit ears or makes a hang ten with his hand. I see dark, curly, unruly hair on Max and clean-cut red hair on Jamis. Ethan wears sandy brown hair and a sweet, littlest brother smile. I see it. It is clear. And I almost want a sneak peek. I am worried it won’t be that way–the way it is in my mind.

    But if I peeked I would change it all. And there’s enough change happening around here all on its own. I am so happy for life. For time going slow and then fast and then slow again. Marching on. Making the most of me. As a mom. As a woman.

    Gale, you are wonderful. Keep writing. I’ll keep reading.

  5. becca Says:

    Wow – we really were on the same page here! And now I see from the comments, I’m certainly not alone! Strange that I missed Aidan’s post on this as I normally catch them all. It scares me how fast time flies and that we’ll be in the “future” before we know it. I need to smack myself to enjoy the present although really, looking toward their futures helps me actually to enjoy them today. Because seeing how they are today, is a blueprint for what i see in the future. Make sense? Maybe not.

    Loved the post – love your blog!