This boy was inducted into the National Honor Society on Thursday night.
When I found out I was pregnant with Jake, I was a senior at Penn State. I had never babysat or held a baby, and I certainly never planned to have children or even marry. Maybe someday I’d adopt an older child.
My plans for post-college were to join the Peace Corps, and afterwards travel around the world in glamorous artistic poverty, a man in every city who’s soul would light up at my arrival because I was that damn magnificent. Our inevitable partings would be poignant, but the men would all understand that I couldn’t be tied down and confined like a normal woman. My enigmatic spirit was part of my beauty, a beauty which both captivated them and broke their hearts! Eventually I’d come back to the states, older and sexier, where I would earn an MFA, and continue to leave men pining for me from coast to coast.
In retrospect, I realize my plans amounted to being an internationally slutty vagrant, and there are probably laws against that. At twenty-two I knew everything about all the things I had yet to experience, and was an expert on hardships and struggles I had never endured.
Jake changed all that.
It could have been worse, and I know I was fortunate that Mike’s first words when I emerged from the bathroom nodding “yes,” were, “Good. Now you have to marry me sooner.” Mike had never endorsed the Peace Corps/ internationally slutty vagrant plans. I might have failed to articulate the slutty post- Peace Corps part.
After considering all the options, I chose the one I believed I could live with. I accepted Mike’s proposal, and worried terribly that although we loved each other, we were simply not a good match. I knew in my heart we were entering into a marriage which was going to be a struggle, and I was, sadly, right. We did really well in many ways–we still do–and I’m proud of us for that. One of the ways we’ve done well is Jake.
Jake made us adults. I thought about what kind of man I hoped to raise, and set about trying to shape myself so I could raise that man, and there aren’t many days when I don’t feel I’ve failed in some small way. I hope he and his brothers can forgive me, although they assure me there is nothing to forgive.
Jake changed everything. He put me on a path much harder, much richer, much healthier, and much less internationally slutty than the one I would have chosen.
Jake has had my best and my fullest attention, and I’ve said a lot of “I’m sorry’s” for the mistakes I’ve made on the child who is the test pancake. He’s watched me fall apart during the divorce, and he’s watched me learn to run a life for all of us, on my own. He’s seen me screw up a lot. We’ve worked really, really hard, and we’ve had an awful lot of fun. I don’t know a family who laughs as much as we do, and one of my greatest joys is making Jake laugh until he throws up or falls over. Another is hearing him ask his younger brothers, every single day, how their days were. He calls me “Darlin’,” and lately he’s started calling me “Dollface, ” and I wonder if I’ve raised Jimmy Cagney by mistake.
He’s a much better, wiser person than I am, and I’m amazed to tears that this incredible young man came from me. He’s one of my favorite people in the world.
Jake is cool, in the very best ways.