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First steps out in a new world

By MELANIE AVE, Times Staff Writer
Published August 21, 2007


The news of my first pregnancy came at me like a stun gun, shocking me out of my self-centered life filled with career aspirations and last-minute trips, dinners and dates with my husband.

Positive. Positive. POSITIVE! shouted the pregnancy test that October evening of 2001 in the emotionally wracked days after the two towers fell. Everything seemed so uncertain. Standing in the bathroom of our new old home, the bright red plus sign on the life-changing piece of plastic left me in a heap. I was beginning a new life. I grieved for the old one.

It's going to be okay, my husband said. It's going to be wonderful.

Someone once referred to me as the anti-mother because of my desire to put off parenthood until I was ready. I bristled at the remark but deep down I wondered if I would ever be ready.

So the anti-mother became a mother. Two days before Mother's Day.

Holden was stunning, with olive skin and hair the color of sand. He opened one eye and then another, as if winking, as if uncertain about this new world he was entering.

I cried again as I cradled his tiny body, this time for very different reasons.

His eyes were bright blue then. But they would change, as we all would.

When he learned to smile, his big eyes would disappear into crescent moon shapes.

As the months and years passed, his eyes turned hazel. Unlike his father's clear blue eyes and my green ones, his switched colors daily like a crystal ball. Sometimes they were brown. Sometimes they were golden. Other times, speckled like a rock.

Holden is proud of his magic eyes, so different from everyone else's.

"What color are my eyes today, Mommy?" he asks from the backseat.

Something great is in store for this exuberant child who, at age 5, knows the four levels of a rainforest the forest floor, understory, canopy and emergent layer, who wants to watch the news so he knows "what's going on," who passes up graham crackers for dessert because he wants to be healthy. He weighs all of 35 pounds, the same as his sister who is two years younger.

Some days he wants to be an astronaut, or perhaps an architect or maybe a Lego-building engineer. He constructs strangely aerodynamic paper airplanes with wing flaps and unusual angles that soar to the ceiling.

Today, I give up the boy with magic eyes to the world, the government, the public school system. He is afraid, and so am I. The new Hot Wheels notebook and Spider-Man backpack are temporary diversions from the vast unknowns of that milestone day and the others beyond it.

He grows silent and looks at the ground when talking about "kimmergarten."

But I know when the bell rings that first day of school in Mrs. Moyer's sunny classroom, I will hold back my tears, wipe away those of my son and say: It's going to be okay. It's going to be wonderful.

And it will be.

I'm positive.

Melanie Ave can be reached at (727) 893-8813 or mave@sptimes.com.