Don’t Blink

Don’t Blink


“To my embarrassment I was born in bed with a lady.”

Wilson Mizner (1876-1933)

“It’s a boy!”

Those three magical words changed my life in ways I never could have imagined.

Growing up in a home with two older sisters, I assumed that when I gave birth, of course I’d have a daughter…after all, what on earth did I know about taking care of a boy?  I was a girly girl who was not immune to the bribe of a new pair of pink ballet slippers or the latest outfit for my beloved Barbie doll.

Upon hearing the news of my son’s birth, my oldest sister (herself a new mother of a son) hastened to reassure me that, “You will just love having a boy.”  My middle sister, also an “experienced” mother of a 3 year-old girl and 1 year-old boy, heartily concurred.  As with most things I learned from my older and wiser sisters, “boy” were they right!

To prepare for motherhood I read all the current books by Dr. Spock, Penelope Leach, and T. Berry Brazelton.  I spoke to new and “seasoned” mothers and received a wealth of information and parenting tips.  But one piece of advice I wish I had received was, “Don’t blink.”

One morning I was delighting in listening to my toddler son’s chatter as we spoke on his Fisher Price telephone—I blinked—and one afternoon I called home and was startled when I realized that the person with the deep voice who just said “Hello” was my son.

My preschooler often begged me to turn on Sesame Street for him—I blinked—and my teenage son was the only one who could figure out how to work the rapidly multiplying number of remote controls that operate the TV/DVD/Cable/Playstation/Stereo system.

Those big colorful Playskool keys I gave my son as to play with accompanied us to the grocery store, the park and the zoo—I blinked—and Toyota car keys were now taking my son places to explore on his own.

Wonderful hours were spent helping my son learn the alphabet—I blinked—and in his junior year of high school he was learning new and frightening combinations of the letters I had taught him so long ago—SAT, GPA and AP.

Many a day I commiserated as my son complained that there was no one to play with outside since only the girls that lived on our street were home—I blinked—and he was asking for my advice on where to find the best dozen roses to send to his sweetheart for Valentine’s Day.

On the first day of kindergarten I dropped him off and worried for three hours until I could rush back to pick him up—I blinked—and was I really dropping him off at college knowing I wouldn’t see him for three months?

When he was in first grade, my son and I packed a bag for him to take to a sleep over two houses down—I blinked—and he was packing his own luggage to spend six month’s studying half-way across the world.

On a spectacular spring day my determined four-year old insisted I take the training wheels off his shiny new bike—I blinked—and an even more determined young man had saved enough money to buy his own shiny new car.

Surely it was only last night that I was tucking my son in after a good-night story and heading for bed at 10:00 p.m.—I blinked—and my bedtime now coincides with the time he’s just heading out the door for a night out with his friends.

I can clearly recall that adorable end-of-preschool pageant in which my son donned his paper-plate mortarboard and proudly accepted his graduation certificate—I blinked—and he was striding confidently to shake hands with the University President and accept his college diploma.

Even kisses and hugs have changed!  I was always the one who needed to bend down to give my son a bear hug and smother him with kisses—I blinked—and now I need to reach up so we can exchange a hug and a kiss.

As a sophomore in high school, my son made an impressive case for why he absolutely had to have a cell phone—I blinked—as a sophomore in college he was the first family member whose cell phone finally reached me on 9/11 to be sure I had made it out of the World Trade Center.  Burned in my memory of that indescribable day was my son’s concerned voice asking, “Mom, are you okay?”

My sisters were right….my son has transformed my life in ways I never dreamed possible.   When it was time for my second child to be born, I was ecstatic when I heard those magnificent words, “It’s a boy!” one more time.

You can keep the Barbie doll…I’ll take a G.I. Joe any day.


Pamela Hackett Hobson

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