I am feeling rather nostalgic today. As we move into the month of December – the final month of the year – I find myself looking back and reflecting on the many things that not only have transpired over the past eleven months, but also over the years.
The first of December is a very special day to me for many reasons. Not only does it mark the beginning of the holiday season, but for me personally, it marks something far more significant. Thirty years ago I became a “mom.”
I believe becoming a parent is one of the most significant and life-changing events that one can experience. It is full of wonder and joy and yes – fear. We worry about so many things. Will I be able to provide for my child. Will I make good decisions in his/her upbringing? Will I be able to take care of them properly?
These are all things that went through my mind when I became a mother. I didn’t have what you would call a ‘perfect’ childhood by any stretch. While I have many good memories of when I was young, I didn’t really have what was a ‘traditional’ upbringing in the 1960’s and 70’s. I will just say that I had a troubled home and leave it at that.
I worried when I had my own children that I would impose some of these issues upon them, and I did my best to make things as ‘normal’ as possible for them. We always tried to provide them with a caring home where they knew they were loved. We also tried to teach them basic values of honesty and love for self and others. We encouraged them to follow their hearts and dreams – even if we didn’t always agree with them – and do the best they could in anything that they pursued. I wanted them to know right from wrong and be happy in their lives. As a parent, I believe that is the best reward you can receive.
Phil was born five weeks early. He just decided to enter this world ahead of time. His first 31 days were spent in the ICU neo-natal unit of the hospital, in an incubator hooked up to several wires and leads. Being early, parts of him weren’t ready for the world yet. His lungs were good and developed, but he had trouble digesting any type of food. This meant that he needed to be tube fed for the first several weeks. His weight was good for being so early (5 lbs, 10 oz) but the feeding problems kept him in the hospital through his first Christmas.
It was a difficult time for me and I spent pretty much of that first month at the hospital with him by his side. I didn’t want him thinking he didn’t have a mom. I remember holding him in the hospital and longing for the day when I could just pick him up without disconnecting 5-10 lead wires from his machines. At 22 years old, it certainly made me grow up quickly and made me into a “parent.”
But we got through it and as soon as we got home, Phil began to thrive:
He was barely sick as a child, and not only was he healthy, but he was brilliant as well.
I made the decision to stay at home with Phil and be there to raise him. Financially it was tough, but I didn’t want to have a child and not be able to be there with them every day. I never regretted that decision.
I loved my role as a mom and I had a lot of fun with Phil every day.
(You can see before I dressed the cats, I used to have fun “playing” with my kids!)
We did crafts and that is really where I began my “crafting” career. I wanted to earn some extra money at home by making things and while he was napping or sleeping at night, I made items to sell. The little amount of extra money helped, but more important it allowed me to be there for him and enjoy my role as a mom and a parent. And that meant more to me than any paycheck.
As Phil grew, it became apparent that he was creative and brilliant in his own rite. At 16 he began his own computer consulting company. He loved computers and technology and could write his own code as a young teen. He also joined the ham radio club and learned Morse code. I believe he won an award as being one of the youngest to reach a certain level in the club. He loved anything to do with computers and electronics and when most parents were worrying about their children drinking or partying, I watched as Phil’s fellow ham radio club members picked him up for the meetings and knew that he was safe. All through school his test scores were off the charts. His high school teachers used to call him “young Bill Gates” because he even got a job there setting up the high school’s computer security system. You may say I was proud.
But Phil’s other dream was to be a police officer. Even though he had a group of doctors that had a Michigan Avenue office in downtown Chicago pull him from high school to work full time and work as their IT Administrator, he always dreamed of being a cop. After working with the doctors for several years at a good salary, Phil decided to try to be a cop. After many applications in the surrounding area, he was accepted by the city of Joliet – a southern suburb of Chicago. (His size and a small medical problem held him back for a bit) He went to academy and learned the ropes of being an officer. One of the scariest things that I witness (via photos) was him getting “maced” as part of his training.
But he stuck with things and graduated and realized his dream.
I have been so proud of all of his accomplishments and awards!
In the mean time, he married his high school sweetheart and just this year, they had their first child – my grand daughter, Willow.
So today marks the 30th anniversary of Phil’s birth. As I look at him these days, I realize that he is no longer the child that I held in my arms. It seems as if it was only last week that we were taking our wagon to the farmer’s market on Saturdays, going to the library to spend the afternoon, or making a trip to the zoo. The time has passed so quickly.
While I miss these times tremendously, I find a great deal of joy in my heart seeing the wonderful man he has become. I see the lives he touches every day though his work. His love of his wonderful wife and daughter, and his dedication and efforts to help make this world just a little better.
I look back at my decision to be a stay at home mom as Phil was growing up and I think it is the best decision that I ever made in my life. I am so happy to have had that time with him and to be such a big part of his young life. It forged a bond that will never be broken between us. Even though we are miles apart, our hearts are never far from each other.
Phil’s family is everything to him, and I see that the values that I tried to teach them were well learned. I watch though the eyes of Briana and Willow and I see the love their family has for each other, and I know I did a good job.
I want to wish my wonderful son Phil a happy birthday today. No mother could ever be prouder.
I love you, Phil.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"