When I was 21, my then girlfriend told me she was pregnant. As one might expect, the news was not welcome. Rather, I received it with paralyzing fear and horror. Both of us, my girlfriend and I, felt our choices limited by family expectations and personal convictions. Morally, we felt abortion was not an option, yet, because of our families, neither was adoption. Only one path was available, and it was not one we desired.
We took it anyway. Nine months, and one hurried wedding later, he was born; 11 pounds, 7 ounces and blue as a berry. It was not until that moment that the magnitude of what I had done became a reality. The responsibility of my decision dropped on my shoulders with an almost audible thud, my knees buckled, and the world shifted. He became the center of my existence, and the rest of reality rearranged itself around him. It was not guilt, nor affection, but duty and sacrifice, which, I believe, are the foundations of enduring Love. I realized that my responsibility for him outweighed anything else.
The ensuing weeks, months and years were a succession of difficulties followed by struggles and sprinkled with disaster; monetary, marital and parental. I could hardly take care of myself, let alone an entire household, including one entirely dependent on me. I began to realize depths of inadequacy heretofore unknown to man. My family and friends were concerned, and continued to ask me if I was “OK.” To my surprise, my honest answer was always, “Yes.” In fact, I felt better than ever.
The reason is this. The birth of my son made me a better person. I date my life BB and AB (Before Birth and After Birth). Before, I was not unkind or cruel, but I was apathetic and selfish. After, I changed. I found that my love for my son gave me a deeper love for family, friends, the world … even God. My love for him did not limit me. It expanded me.
On my son’s third birthday I was offered a chance to choose. As he struggled to blow out the candles, I wondered what his three-year-old wish would be. “For myself,” I thought, “I would wish to go back in time, knowing what I know now, and not make the mistakes I have made.” But the thought had no sooner crossed my mind than I began adding caveats. Primary was this, that no matter how I changed my life, I couldn’t mess with the conception and birth of my son. With that thought, the Choice became apparent. If I could choose a life as it was, with all the difficulties, and with my son or a life without him, but without said difficulties, what would I choose? Then, as now, I choose my life as is; lumps, lessons … and love … included.
This I believe; that the act of choosing the life we have makes that life more bearable.
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