Ten years ago, I chose to take on the responsibility of a baby. I weighed my options, thought about the implications and ramifications, and decided to turn away from the future I had planned for myself. I chose a child and the life that came with him.
Earlier today, he chose me back.
I can't begin to describe the surge of emotions that flooded me when he turned to me in the middle of a store, wrapped his arms around me and said, I know you're not my biological mom, but from now on, for me, you are, okay? From now on, you are.
Tears. Laughter. Hugs. In that order. That's all I had for him there, but since then, I can't stop thinking about it. My son, the one who has never been given a choice, made one on his own without any pushing or prompting from anyone else. His first big-kid decision and he used it to choose me.
As parents, it's our job to make decisions for our children. We do it because we love them and we (hopefully) see a bigger picture and act out of love, concern, and wisdom. This is an unspoken contract established between parents and children that we all agree to in one way or another.
And I have made some huge decisions for Javi in the past years. I decided he'd be my son, that he'd have the Mountain Man as a father, and that he'd have a younger sibling (but only one). I decided that he would have no contact with his biological father. And recently I decided he'd have no contact with his biological mother.
Obviously, I don't think it was wrong to make firm, drastic decisions for my child (such as barring access to him by people who put him in psychological or physical danger) and I stand by every decision I've ever made for him. In fact, I wish I'd made those strong decisions earlier and more frequently in his life.
But not once have I consulted Javi on what he wants. I haven't allowed him to make big decisions for himself. Many times it hasn't been necessary. For instance, Javi called MM "daddy" way before our wedding in 2006 or MM's adoption of Javi in 2007. And the other times -- well, you can't ask a child to decide whether a person is a bad influence or dangerous presence. (Or, at least, I don't believe it would be fair to ask him to make that decision.)
But standing there today hearing him make and voice such a big decision? It opened my eyes and my heart. My baby boy hasn't just lived the past ten years; he's gained tremendous wisdom and experience from them. He's learned and processed and suffered consequences. He's made mistakes and accomplished goals. Right in front of my eyes, that baby is maturing into the man he'll soon be.
Today, I heard him, for the first time, choose me (us, this family that came about as a result of him). I know you're not my biological mom, but from now on, for me, you are, okay? From now on, you are. Ten years in the making, sweeter words were never spoken.
I know that our road will still be rocky and that the days will be long as we hurtle toward the teen years, but we're all here because we want to be. We have chosen each other, and that will get us through.