Stephie

Jackson is 8

201510.29 There was almost no discussion about having a child before or after we got married. Being a lot older than most people to the parenting party, not discussing it was probably insane - yet…..what else could I say when the person I loved so much wanted to have a child with me? Should I have brought up all kinds of logistical things? Do I discuss money and our future then start on all the things that could go wrong? Do I try to micro manage the dream of something so beyond my wildest dreams? Still - I had no idea how much I wanted to be a father. I could never have imagined what I was holding in. Then one night Stephie handed me three envelopes. When I opened the third one, there was a drawing of a heart plus another heart equalling a baby. I cried harder at that moment than I had ever cried. My insides just opened up and I couldn’t pull myself together for a long time. It was the deepest ache and joy simultaneously.. How can you know how much you want something until it is really there? How can you know the love of your life until you are really living each day together?

There is no way a man can appreciate all a woman goes through having a child. Even though we are hopefully a big of source of support, we cannot be inside that beautiful body going through such an intense metamorphous. The time spent pregnant is both compressed and goes on forever. On the morning of our second anniversary, Stephie said, “I am going to give you the best anniversary present ever.” 7 hours of intense labor after that, Jackson appeared in three breaths. CRIES. SWEAT. First the top of his head poked out. BREATHE. PUSH. Then his whole head. Jackson’s whole head was right there emerging from Stephie. She was doing all the work and I stood holding her and looking through streams of tears. AWWWWWEEEEEE! Finally on the next breath Jackson launched into the world.

Everything in your life prepares you for this moment and yet it is nothing you can imagine. Jackson was alive in our arms and I cried even harder while trying to count his fingers and toes. As tightly as we held him, I also knew the process of having a child is the process of letting go. Even from those very first moments.

Jackson is 8 years old on our tenth wedding anniversary - which is today. My mother said last night, "The amazing thing about Jackson is he never says good, he always says great. He never likes things, he always loves them.” He comes by that honestly.

Jackson never misses a beat in appreciating what makes each moment sing. He has albums full of mental pictures he saves on his internal hard drive. There is so much we love about our kids, but I think before everything, I so appreciate Jackson’s kindness. His good mornings and goodbyes. His kisses and hugs and being so sensitive and appreciative. When I am going away for a work trip, he fights back his tears so bravely and says, “I am going to miss you Dad.” Just before I completely fall apart, he throws me a bone giving me a count of the days until I will be home for us both to look forward to.

Jackson is a child of the world now, but oh how we love him, and oh…..how he loves us back.

And So it Began

2015.10.28 I have told this story many times but it is true. I was in Nashville on March 15, 2003 for a photo shoot, sitting talking to a stranger on a couch at a friend’s house just before a dinner party. The door opens and Stephanie Cook appears. Sporting a fun shirt covered with pastel flowers, a beer, and a guy she had been dating. For no logical reason I said to the stranger sitting next to me on the sofa, “I am in trouble.” And I was. I asked a friend to run interference when we went out after dinner so I could talk to Stephie. The next day I went out to her home in the country, and took lots of pictures. That all seems so crazy now, but I was being pulled in ways that were totally out of my control.

7 weeks later, Stephie was landing at Laguardia for her first trip to New York. I hired a car to ride out to Laguardia Airport, pick Stephie up and have the car leave us at the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked over into Manhattan, took a picture of our feet walking into NY together, then walked up to Balthazar for breakfast.

And so it began.

Ninth Anniversary

It is our 9th wedding anniversary today. That gets lost in shuffle of Jackson's birthday being the same day, but never in the joy that my life is built on. Stephie is a gift I get to unwrap everyday. There has not been a single day I have not appreciated how lucky I am to be with her. All this energy goes into our children, that is the way it is. We tend to their needs, their safety, their health and happiness long before our own. But the source and inspiration of it all are the Stephie's and the women we get to raise our families with. I mean it.2014.09.28_01_402

Jackson's Last Day of Kindergarten

What can I say? All I want to do is hold onto every single moment. Those walks to school holding hands. Other days trying to catch up as his brother, Asher chased Jackson on his scooter. Playing so hard before school, then switching gears and getting so serious in line before being swallowed up by the oldest working elementary school in Colorado.And then the story I didn't think it was right to share. Where his teacher, Kim came to Jackson's Little League game, which was so sweet and so generous. I sent her a thank you note and she wrote back, "I loved seeing Jackson in his element! I think if you looked up 'joy' in the dictionary there should be a picture of Jackson. He is one of a kind." Every child is special. Every child deserves to be under "joy" in the dictionary. I just can't tell you how moving it is everyday to be sharing my life with this child of mine, who I am so proud of, and gives us all so much joy. At the end of the day our friends roasted a whole pig for a last day of school celebration. Farm to backyard Boulder style. The kids jumped in the air, burned their homework and then their marshmallows.

Fall

Woke up in the middle of the night with Asher buried under my arm. Jackson was calling out in the hallway, “I have to go potty.” By the time I got up, there was a glow from the main bathroom.  Stephie was sitting at the base of the tub. Jackson with his pajamas by his ankles, sitting with his feet off the ground, holding court. He was talking about something that happened a year ago.  A scene that played out at the Bronx train show last Christmas when we bought Jackson a set of two small model trains. Jackson was playing with them on the floor at lunch, and a little boy came over and started playing with him. When it was time to go, Jackson went up to the boy, grabbed the train from his hand and was really mean. The boy burst into tears, and I reacted by taking the train and giving to the little boy. Jackson had a fit going to the car. He had never cried that hard - before or since. When I wavered after Jackson's howling - Stephie, and especially her mother, Janet who was with us - insisted it was the right thing to do and Jackson would learn a lesson. Here we were a year later, in the middle of the night, with Jackson promising to find the little boy and get him his own train when we went to the show this year.  Then, Jackson  offered up as the greatest gift he has, “Mommy I love you.” Just that.Nothing obvious brought it on. NOTHING is more powerful. Jackson knows that too well.