My first pregnancy and delivery was so easy, right after my son was born my doctor told me he would like to say the second one would be easier, but it doesn’t get much easier than I had it. I was lucky for sure.
When my oldest son was two I was pregnant with my second baby. It was fun having a toddler asking questions and wondering what was going on with his mommy. I did my best to get him ready for what was about to happen, but I don’t think you can fully prepare a two and a half year old for a baby brother.
Because my fist son’s birthday was December 30th and so close to Christmas and New Year’s, we had a few friends suggest celebrating his birthday on his half birthday instead. June 30th.
That’s the day his brother was born. The minute that baby showed his face he had a smile. I don’t care what doctors or researchers say about a newborn not really smiling until they are 3 months old, that baby boy was smiling from the beginning.
His face was round and the way his mouth curled up on the sides reminded me of a cartoon of a whale I had seen so I used to call him my little whale. Right from the beginning he looked up to his bigger brother, and was always following him around, wanting to do everything his brother was doing.
My second son was curious about everything. Any time he would get a new toy, he would take it apart to see how it worked. I remember more than a few times finding one of my radios in his room in about a hundred pieces on his desk.
Because of that he also had a knack for putting things together. One time my husband purchased a big desk for his office, which came in a box. As my husband was reading over the instructions for putting it together, my son was looking at all the pieces. I watched as he picked up piece after piece and could see how they all fit together without glancing at the paper in his Dad’s hands.
By the time he was in 3rd grade he declared what he wanted to be when he grew up. He stood in the kitchen and announced proudly that he would be either a fighter pilot or a school bus driver.
My mouth opened to say something encouraging, but all that came out was, “Well okay then!” I wasn’t sure I was happy about either of those choices.
By the time our divorce came around, my youngest was heading into 6th grade. He had always been the peacemaker of the family, and this new situation was especially hard on him. He just wanted all of us to get along and be happy. I knew he spent a lot of time internalizing the pain of it.
But he quickly learned to channel that pain into a goal. From the moment he started high school, he would set a goal and achieve it. Always. When he informed me he would be applying for the Naval Academy, I wasn’t surprised.
He planned his entire high school years around that goal. When I found out the Naval Academy was on the East Coast and far away from home, I asked him why not consider the Air Force Academy. It was located in Colorado and so much closer to home. His answer was “I want to be the best pilot, and the Navy has the best pilots.”
In 11th grade he went through the enormous process of applying for the academy. I didn’t help at all. This was his goal and he did it on his own. As we were waiting to hear if he got accepted I asked him what his backup plan was if he didn’t get in. I will never forget his response. He said “Mom, if you need a plan B then plan A isn’t good enough. I’m going to the Naval Academy.”
And so he did. He sets a goal and doesn’t stop until he reaches it. When he told me he wanted to complete an Iron Man competition while becoming an F-18 pilot and being a husband and father, I thought, “well okay then”.
I’ve watched him grow into an amazing man. He is just finishing up Test Pilot School and has flown numerous aircraft, he is a loving and caring father to his two daughters, and he is completely devoted to his wife. But sometimes when I look at him, I still see my little whale.