Growing up in a household where parents are older when a child comes along is an altogether different experience and often has a dramatic impact on that child’s life. Often you are around older adults and you learn to talk to adults, which may be better, but it almost feels weird to try and talk to kids your own age. Life is fun and having fun is a good thing. Don’t overlook the roses because you are scared of the thorns.
January 2005, my mother went to the hospital because she was having a baby. My mother started out being a dispatcher at the local police department when she was 18 years old and right out of high school. My dad became a police officer in 1987 and worked in many positions in law enforcement over the years. He worked for another police department about 14 miles from where my mother worked, but they got to know each other and that is how they met. So, it was on the 3rd of January that I came into this world. I wouldn’t know for several years later about the events of my life and how lucky I was.
You see my mom and dad were together for a long time with no children. In fact, the doctor told my mother that there was little chance that she could have a child. Her appendix ruptured when she was in the twelfth grade and she almost died. It caused a lot of problems with her body and this led to the issues that would prevent her from having a child. Both wanted a child of their own, although during the years they had considered adoption. Sometimes fate has different plans for you.
After many years of just giving up hope, here it was. My mother was 37 years old and my dad was 40 years old when I was born. Now, being the only child is a good thing at times, but it can be lonely as well. See, I have no brother or sister and yes you guessed it, no one else to lay the blame on. I looked at other kids my age and saw how young their parents were, and at first, I almost envied them because their dad was much younger and could do things that mine couldn’t. As I have gotten older those thoughts changes because I saw how lucky I was to have these people in my life.
Preschool was difficult because I always thought about being at home. I didn’t like to leave the house and never liked being away from my parents. You see, both are good to me. Now mom, she gets onto me about things, but she only threatens to take things away if I don’t listen. Dad is a different story. He is easy going. Yes, can you believe easy going? But he has a line that you can’t cross so I know better. “Dustin, one day you are going to understand why I say you can’t do this”, would be his response if I asked to do something or go somewhere he didn’t want me to go. But I already knew why. It was from all the bad things he saw through the years that frightened him and wanted me to be safe.
I started kindergarten in 2010. That year my mom retired after 25 years of working for the city. She was always around and involved in school activities, so I never felt alone and always had them close by. I remember the mornings waking up for school. I still love the sound of that old light switch “click” as the light comes on. “Dustin, it is time to get out of bed”, mom’s voice would echo through the room. My dad worked as a police chief and often had crazy work hours.
During those years of school something changed. Something happened that became different to me that I could not understand, at least not until recently. You see, making friends has never been easy for me. Growing up with older parents, I was always around and seemed to fit in more with them than kids my own age. I didn’t like doing some of the things kids like to do. I enjoyed listening to stories of years ago, the great grandparents I never knew and even my dad’s father who died years before I came along, although they say I look a lot like him.
For years, I wouldn’t sleep in my room by myself. I just felt a need to be close to my parents. Hopefully one day they will know why. Here is the thing that they don’t understand. It is not that I am scared. If you ask them they would tell you that I am just scared to sleep in my room by myself. But the truth is, being born so late in life I have seen so many of my family already leave this world. It seems like a March wind that comes in and goes out so quickly that the only thing left is a brief memory or two. I know that my time with them is shorter than most. After all, kids my age have parents who are in their 30’s and still young and going. Both of mine are retired now. I am enjoying every part of my life of waking up and seeing their faces, and laying in the warm spot of the bed after my dad gets up and grabbing their hands and squeezing them before I put my head down at night.
I am soaking up all the memories I can before the March winds subsides and blows no more. Do they fuss because I am laying on a pallet in their room? No, they don’t mind. You see all the love and understanding is there and that is my blanket in the winter. Not a day goes by that I don’t say, “I love you.” Each day is full of memories for me to look back on and know that no matter how much time I spend with them, it will never be enough. When the memories of my mind become cluttered with life and I am running around years from now working and trying to make a living for my own family, I want to lift my hand up one more time and squeeze and know that they are still there, if only in my heart. Even though the thorns hurt sometimes, man the roses sure are beautiful.