Monday, May 5, 2014
Most twenty-three year olds these days have a college degree. I once had a friend shriek at me, “Twenty-three no degree!” He was funny and my best friend so I let him get away with it, but secretly in my heart I was disappointed with myself. I had a very non-traditional college experience; I bounced around between universities before finally deciding, very irrationally, to move half way across the country to Missouri. I took semesters off; I flunked classes; I dropped classes and I worked…a lot. I made good money and had a great group of dysfunctional friends. To add to my non-traditional ways in college, I picked up one summer and followed a man to South Carolina for an internship. I don’t think I ever really asked this man if he wanted me to visit, but honestly, I don’t think I really cared; I needed to escape Columbia.
I had the best summer of my life. Every young person should experience the same carefree, limitless, irresponsible summer that we had. Our weeks consisted of working a little, drinking a lot, lying by the ocean or pool and laughing and exploring the South Carolina coast. I didn’t know if I loved him, but I knew I loved the happiness I was experiencing.
When the summer and my internship ended, I had to reluctantly go back to Missouri to complete my senior year of college. My non-traditional flare and my impromptu thinking was finally trumped by good sound logic, and despite my deep yearning to blow off school and continue my fairy tale in South Carolina, this man and I put the top and doors back on my 1995 Jeep Wrangler and drove across the country back to Missouri.
Leaving this man was hard. I cried. I’m pretty sure he cried too except that his dad was staring at his son with bewilderment and masculinity wondering, why the hell was his good-looking son upset about a young girl?
I climbed back in my Wrangler after we had battled a dangerous storm to meet his parents in St. Louis, who were driving him back to South Carolina. I started my journey back to Columbia; I remember the storm was behind me and ahead of me was a break in the clouds and the sun. I screamed. I was so terribly heart-broken. My soul hurt, my stomach ached, and my mind couldn’t fathom the thought of not seeing him every day.
Once I pulled myself back together, I called my mother. I don’t remember much about our conversation except for her one very important question: What do you think is going to happen with you two? To this question, I answered: “I don’t think anything - I really don’t think I’ll ever see him again.” As I drove back to Columbia to meet up with my friends, the ones I had abandoned for South Carolina for three months, through my soul-aching pain, I somehow thought I understood young, uninhibited love: We had a great time together for the summer, but I had a degree to get and a career to begin. I just didn’t think our lives belonged together past this wonderful summer.
Nine years ago today, on May 5, 2005, the most beautiful human being entered my life. Through the fog of the general anesthesia and the ripping pain in my belly, I remembered I had had a baby. I didn’t even know if it was a boy or girl. Before falling back to sleep, I mustered up enough strength to ask the nurse to see my baby. That’s when Jackson Howard Rock was placed in my arms: The love; the awe; the curiosity. I was a mother! He was beautiful and perfect and the previous nine months of a lonely and sad pregnancy disappeared. This most perfect little human being was going to be with me now and forever.
Jackson Howard Rock Weidner, as he is now known, started my beautiful family. He may never know the depth and significance of his role in our lives, but this precious little boy is the foundation of the love that established our family and two other perfect little human beings – his sisters. Jackson is the best little boy ever. I know this because I have the pleasure of being his mom. I cannot believe that it has been nine years since I woke up out of that anesthetic haze as a mother. I can’t believe that despite saying I would never see Scott again, we now have spent thirteen years of our lives together, nine as parents, and seven married. Jackson is so special in so many ways.
Jackson and I have grown up together. I wasn’t ready to be a mother. After spending my magical summer with Scott, I was ready to go back to Missouri to party my senior year away; God and Jackson had a different plan. Instead, I lived in my aunt’s basement and waddled around the beautiful Mizzou campus. I watched my friends do shots and drink beer while I rubbed my belly. I saw other students stare at me probably wondering how I could have made such a horrible mistake. I was embarrassed. I was scared. I was lonely, especially without Scott, but the little baby who I had no idea would change my life the way he did, stayed close to my heart.
I didn’t know how to be a parent and Jackson sensed that. He cried – a lot. I cried along with him. When he was a toddler, I was impatient. As a mother of a grade-schooler, I’m still impatient, but he is patient with me. Jackson’s desire for independence is not stronger than his love for me. He randomly hugs me and gives me the biggest smiles ever. That boy is my heart. He is my soul; Jackson is my everything; and thank goodness I was wrong that day in August 2004, when I was convinced I would never see Scott again. I was twenty-three “with no degree”, but I was a mother and didn’t know it. When that stormed passed and the clouds parted and the sun emerged, it was then that God was telling me something big was going to happen.