“We’ve raised a human and now he’s 16” are words I never imagined I would be writing and yet, the day has arrived: the kiddo that made My Fave and I parents turns 16. (((sigh)))
“I’m never having kids!” was a frequent declaration I made growing up. I’m sure My Fave and I talked about kids during our pre-marriage classes but I really don’t recall either of us expressing any serious desire to be parents. A few months after we were married and bought our first house, I got pregnant. I was nearly 9 weeks when we found out and we were both honestly surprised at our excitement. 30 days later, we’d lose the baby we didn’t know we wanted. That saying “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.” is so true.
I blamed myself. I was a smoker and, not knowing I was pregnant, had still been smoking. I was taking a medication for bi-polar that, not wanting to get pregnant, I didn’t change until after we got pregnant. I’d lifted boxes during the move into our house. I was a Mt. Dew addict. I did XYZ during my childhood so my kid would probably be as messed up as I was and didn’t deserve a life like that. I was “crazy” and couldn’t be trusted to parent a human being and was likely incapable of doing so successfully. I had a whole list that grew with every failed pregnancy test over the next 8 months. We almost gave up. Just under a year ago, after my last suicide hospitalization, I had promised My Fave I’d never “quit on life” again and I was so ready to.
And then one day “pregnancy failure” wasn’t a name I called myself. In July 2002, the test that for months had brought tears of sadness, brought tears of joy.
At the first viability ultrasound, My Fave passed out. We joke that it was the method of the test; we know it was actually being overwhelmed by the fear of hearing “I’m sorry.” and the anticipation/hope that no words would be needed because the sound of a heartbeat would fill the room. Our ObGyn made a quick note to have smelling salts in the delivery room for My Fave on March 28, 2003.
A story for another day required that we move out of our house during the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy. It had already been a tough 7 months. My job in retail management meant long days on my feet. I was getting into the early stages of being uncomfortable during the chaos that comes with the holiday season in retail. I had never weighed over 100 lbs in my life and at 4’11” there wasn’t a whole lot of room to grow a human between my ribs and hips. A fall in the middle of my 2nd trimester resulted in my regularly going into preterm labor so I had the joy of months of Brethine. I wanted to be at home “nesting” like Babycenter.com said I should be doing but instead prepared to bring our baby boy into the world, uncertain where we’d bring him “home” to.
At 36 weeks, I got to stop the Brethine. At 39 weeks, our doctor told us he was going to a conference and, as I was not yet dilated and this was my first delivery, he would certainly be back in time. 2 days later, we moved back into our house. 2 days after that, I spent the day buying up everything left on our registry with my sister, threw it all into the unfinished nursery across the hall from our bedroom and dropped into bed, at which point my water broke.
My Fave decided for some reason to take a different path than we’d planned to the hospital and hard contractions had started almost immediately when my water broke so by the time we got to intake and they informed us that “No, in fact the 400 pages of forms you’ve filled out in preparing for your delivery we’re not enough.”, I wasn’t exactly the best version of myself. As I gripped the desk with white knuckles I was cursing the soon to be father of my child both under my breath and out loud. “Just sign the f@#^ing forms. Yes, sign my name. I don’t care!” We could have been agreeing to name our sweet boy Gertrude for all I knew. I screamed for an epidural immediately and because I was barely dilated, “No not yet, it will slow things down.” was the constant response – labor and delivery folks should know better than to fight with a pregnant mama, right? An angel named, Sue, pushed all the “no” voices aside and soon became my favorite person.
6 hours after waddling into the hospital, at 4:32 a.m. on March 25, 2003, Jackson Tyler Miller made me a Mama. We’d made it through only 3 of the “baby classes” at our birthing hospital because on the night the video of the actual birth was shown My Fave, the former football star, barely made it out of the room. We faked our way through “breathing techniques” and, with no desire to see what was happening, My Fave asked nicely for them to move the mirror that allowed him full view while he stood at top of the bed. I was shocked when the only doc in the ObGyn group I didn’t like (my doc had in fact not made it back in time) said “I can see his head.” and My Fave left my side to watch the baby we’d almost given up trying for finally arrive.
The baby I’d told God He was wise for not giving us to screw up was put on my chest for just seconds before being moved to a warming unit. His vitals took a little time to reach acceptable levels but they soon handed our baby boy to his Daddy. I thought it was impossible to love My Fave more than I did on the day he stood in front of our family and friends and said “She’s a total mess but I’m all in for doing life with her.” Seeing him stare at our little human put that wedding day love to shame.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
And now, he’s 16. The “countdown to launch” has arrived at the stage where all we’ve taught him will have some first real opportunities to be tested before we pack him into a car and send him (hopefully) south in 2 ½ years. The three of us have made mistakes (a lot of them); being a parent is often referred to as the hardest job in the world and it is so true. It is also, without a doubt, the best and most rewarding job I have ever had. The “pay” sucks but the “benefits” are without measure. I look at him and often hear the whisper of “This is what happens when you don’t give up on life.”
I have zero doubt that we were picked to be his parents on purpose. He is as hard on himself as I am on myself. He’s taken up a sport that requires as much precision as my childhood sport did. He, when he gets his eye set on something, is as results oriented as his Mama. He loves to read and has a love/hate relationship with writing; could bury himself in history and chuck math/science; gets all that from his Mama. He also, when he believes with every ounce in his being right, is as stubborn as his Mama. Being a people-pleaser, also gets it from his Mama, he’ll throw me a bone every once in a while and sport the “right blue”.
He tried football, to be like his Daddy, and quit at the end of the 2nd practice, much to the delight of his Daddy who never wanted his boys to feel like they had to “follow in their dad’s footsteps.” He is learning to master sarcasm as the 6th love language, just like his Daddy and, also like his Daddy, just when you think he’s checked out of a conversation, he will zing a one-liner out of seemingly nowhere. He loves – My Fave usually encouraging it all. He bleeds the “wrong blue”, just like his Daddy.
And watching him be a big brother is hilarious and sweet and infuriating – sometimes all at the same time. But the moments when they are just them, in the Miller Brothers zone, my goodness is it awesome to see. This fall they will be back in school together for the first time in 4 years and it’s going to be awesome for them to get the next couple of years together.
He loves connecting with kiddos. He has a justice streak and heart for those who get overlooked but don’t speak up for themselves. He’s found his tribe early and knows who his people are; he’d drop everything for them in a moment and they’d do the same for him. He’s, almost right along with his mama, learned to ask for help when he needs it. He has, also right along with his mama, learned how to forgive and how to say I’m sorry. He has grown a confidence of doing what he loves even though it brings jeers and jokes from his peers.
Jackson Tyler, we are so very proud to be your parents. It has been 16+ hard and awesome and scary and fun and nerve wracking and side-splitting hilarious years to get to this day. We love the man you are becoming. Don’t ever be anything for anyone that doesn’t make you happy or allow you to be the incredible person you were made to be. Always remember who you belong to and that nothing found in this world comes close to what waits for you beyond this world. You were made on purpose, for a purpose; keep your eyes fixed there and leave people and places better than you found them and there’s no doubt that your version of success and His purpose for you will line up.
You’ve been loved by many along the way sweet boy and they have all played a huge role in you becoming the man you are. We hope we have all told them enough just how much we appreciate them and all they have done, and continue to do for you and us.
“This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)
The countdown to launch continues and we can’t wait for what’s to come! ♥