Challenges · Family

My Firstborn, My Hero

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Unsung Heroes.”

Unsung Hero- a person who makes a substantive yet unrecognized contribution; a person whose bravery is unknown or unacknowledged.

When I saw today’s daily prompt earlier today….well that would be yesterday now that it’s after 2:00a.m…. I planned on giving it some thought and getting back to it later. Then my day got in the way. And I forgot.

I’ve spent a lot of time with my daughter-in-law, my grandson and my newest grandson lately but my son, Michael, has been gone. A lot. And I’ve missed him. A lot.

When I woke up a couple hours ago (my insomnia is horrible these days), I was catching up on reading the blogs that I follow when I came across one that was written in response to the daily prompt. This time I had no doubt in my mind.

Michael is my unsung hero. But you don’t know Michael, do you? I realized that I don’t talk about him that much, do I?

Well, he’s married to Jasmine and has 2 children. CJ is five and he wants to grow up to be just like his daddy. I hope he does! Michael didn’t know much of anything about kids when he and Jasmine began dating but he took to fatherhood like a fish to water. He not only took on another man’s responsibility, he became CJ’s daddy in every way he possibly could. All those years ago when I thought he wasn’t listening? Well, he was and he proves it every time he opens his mouth and something I used to say to him comes out.

Baby B is 3 weeks old. The first time I saw him in the hospital special care nursery, he was laying there holding onto Michael’s finger and when Michael spoke, B’s head turned toward his voice. It wasn’t coincidental, as I have witnessed B search out his daddy every time he hears his voice, even in a room with all of us (Ari barking in the background). If Michael didn’t know much about toddlers, he knew even less than about newborns. Because Jasmine had a rough delivery, Michael took on more of the parenting duties than is usually expected of a new father. Because he had to leave again when B was only 3 days old to complete his training, he had to pack a lot of bonding into a short time. And he did.

Michael is such an amazing big brother to Kris and Andrew. It was never more evident than when he found out that Kris was transgender and not even fully understanding the enormity of it in the beginning, he never missed a step. He swooped in and kept a close eye on both of his brothers, gathering them close to him and coining the greeting, “Hey, brother!” which is uttered back and forth between the three of them constantly, along with CJ sometimes chiming in. I wouldn’t be surprised to find him ‘hey brother’-ing Baby B before long.

He has packed a lot into the 6 years since he graduated from high school. He became an EMT within 6 months of graduation. Four years later he got his paramedic certification. And just 9 weeks ago he entered firefighter academy. He graduated last week and he will begin his first day as a firefighter tomorrow- well, actually in a few short hours! This has been his dream for as long as I can remember. He knew what he wanted to do and he worked for it. He worked HARD for it!

All of these things could make him a hero in my eyes and to a certain degree, they do. But it wasn’t these things that came to mind when I thought of him. It was something that happened this evening.

Michael and family were over doing laundry. It was slightly chaotic in the house with CJ racing around causing Ari, who is still figuring out what to do with Baby B, to run around barking. Mr. K and I had just returned from the wake of the father of kids that all my kids had gone to school with. I was quiet, trying not to let my sadness get the best of me. As I walked past Michael, who was folding clothes, he glanced at me and asked, “You okay, Mom?”

I nodded and said, “Yes” in what I hoped was a reassuring voice. It wasn’t.

He set down the towel and hugged me, saying, “I love you, Mom.” It was a solid hug and gosh, it felt really good. I had missed him. And I had needed that hug!

I’m not a touchy feely person. I can be described as prickly at best unless you are my grandson. Those hugs and I love yous don’t come easy to me.

In that moment and the moments that followed, as I watched my son taking care of his wife and his baby, altering CJ’s firefighter helmet that used to be his as a child to reflect his badge number, knowing how hard he had worked to achieve his dream, and realizing that there are some men in the world who, if they had done any of these things, would expect some kind of recognition but not him. Not Michael.

I am proud of him and I’m proud to call him my son.

unsung hero