Twelve years ago today, I was on the eve of a day that changed my life forever. My body was stretched to its max as the previous 9 months of pregnancy had spread like butter. Everything about me seemed bigger...wider...weightier. I was only 20...barely a woman in my own right, but something felt right...felt purposeful. I wasn't scared to me a mom or even scared of all the responsibilities that come with that title. I was excited to meet this person I created, nervous at the unknown of labor and delivery, and calmly assurant of my purpose.
Hubby and I sat in our apartment dozing on and off as we watched TV unaware of what tomorrow would bring...what it would change...what it would offer to our lives. It was our last day of innocence...of ignorance. We knew not what to expect, but we were filled with hope and excitement ready to welcome our bundle into the world.
Today, twelve years later, we sit watching TV contemplating what tomorrow will bring somewhat fearful and anxious. Tomorrow our oldest will turn 12. 12 years old...not really a boy and not quite a man. And tomorrow will be his last day of innocence...of ignorance. The last day that his heart will not carry a burden...a hurt and a fear that I can't prevent. After his birthday, we will be telling him that his dad will be leaving for Afghanistan in a few short months to fulfill a year long deployment that I, myself, am struggling to wrap my mind around. I can't protect him from the adult questions that he will wonder and ask. I can't protect him from the fearful thoughts that will surely haunt his sleep. And I can't protect him from the responsibility that will befall him. By virtue of being the oldest, he will bear the greatest burden, he will be charged the greatest duty, he will suffer the greatest pain. The reality of war will not be lost on the innocence of his age. He will wonder and ponder and question and fear.
I am more unprepared now for this encumbrance than I was 12 years ago when on the brink of becoming a mother. Fears...I have many. Questions...they fill my head. Strength...it alludes me. I am at a loss as to what words we will say, and how I will support my son who will bear the burden of a man. He will indeed lose a piece of his innocence. My heart aches as I don't want tomorrow to come and go. But it will...it surely will...and his life will be changed forever.