what else really matters?

Over the course of the eight months that I watched my belly ripen and swell, I found myself wondering what our firstborn child would be like. If it was a girl, her name might be Ruby, Ginger or Ella; if a boy, the only name my husband Michael and I both liked—above and beyond any other—was Calvin.

I had a dream that our boy was born with tussled blond hair chatting up a storm, already sprouting baby teeth in abbreviated rows of little pearls. I wondered who he’d look like most, even though at a glance Michael and I sometimes resemble each other as if kin. I figured our kid would grow up to be tall and thin like his dad, his grandpa and great grandpa, and athletic like many of his relatives on both sides. Maybe he’d be a collegiate swimmer like his mom and her brothers, but if not, at the very least he’d swim like a fish. Perhaps he’d run as graceful as a gazelle and hurl the javelin with the skill of the grandpa who he never met. Maybe he’d pole vault like his Uncle Matt, get caught in a rugby scrum like his pa, or speed-skate in the fast form of Michael’s mom. I imagined our child pitching a baseball through the center of a tire hanging from a rope. As a Little-Leaguer, his Uncle Scott did, bringing home the prize minibike that my dad tried riding. With clouds of blue smoke in his wake, Dad popped a wheelie (not on purpose) taking out a chunk of turf with his bald head. With any luck our kid will not grow up bald, I thought, then smiled.

I wondered if our child would grow up to play the guitar as well as my grandmother and her sister did on San Jose radio in the early 1900s. Might he surpass his dad’s skill on the stringed instrument, or perhaps enjoy singing, instead? Would he be an educator like his father, and his father's father, or a successful coach like his mama and her siblings? Would he speak several languages and travel the world? Would he be a photographer? An avid reader? A handyman? A cook? Would he pick up a pencil and draw like a fiend following in his mama’s footsteps? Would he have a way with words? One thing’s for sure, I thought, he’d have a good sense of humor. Maybe he’d turn out completely kooky like his mama. I had hoped so.

We’d teach our boy about compassion and to love nature, to help out his fellow man—particularly the underdog—to maintain a healthy skepticism, to respect women, to be curious about the universe, to take risks. We’d show him the value of progressivism and the shortfalls of convention. He’d be humble and kind, a free-thinker, a problem solver. He’d learn to love and embrace people from all walks of life—his heart to thwart hatred, greed and selfishness.

Most of all, our boy would be absolutely beautiful, inside and out. Little did we know, that’s all he would ever be. But, in the grand scheme of things, what else really matters?

June 2007


  1. This is beautiful. And that photo -- oh, that photo! Have you seen my Extreme Parenting Video project? I so wish that I had known you back when I began it; your words are missing from it.

  2. thank you! and yes, i did see your video. what a wonderful idea. i don't know what i would have said. perhaps something like, "drop f-bomb often."

  3. Beautiful post (as usual!) I think about you all the time and glad to stay connected through your writing..


  4. gwen! i was thinking of you the other day and wondering how you are! if you ever think of visiting maine, please come. you are welcome to stay! xoxoxoox

  5. In the grand scheme nothing really matters more. Beauty and love are meta-physical meaning beyond the physical. In your family, in your child I can see beauty and love.


  6. I just ran across your blog today and wanted to let you know I had the same kind of dreams about my son before he was born. We found out he has Down Syndrome and a hole in his heart once he was born. He is now 8 and a half yrs old and was diagnosed with Epilepsy 2 yrs ago. So far no meds have helped him but I still hope that we can get the seizures under control. He is the most beautiful child and he has my whole heart wrapped around his lil fingers. I wish you and your family all the love in the world and that we can someday find a cure for Epilepsy. Thank you for sharing your story!

  7. dear lexey,
    i am sorry to hear of your son's struggles with so many afflictions, like calvin. i can imagine what a sweetheart he is.
    we have started investigating integrative (functional) medicine and adding magnesium to his diet in supplement form has seemed to have allowed calvin to go 69 days seizure free (he was having one or two a month before that.) he is also on keppra which has helped a lot. my goal, however, is to get him off meds some day and i am trying the biomedical approach of good gut health and boosting his immune system. i wish you the best in this journey. please feel free to "friend" me on facebook if you are on it. share the blog with the world if you can. reach out to me any time with questions. take good care! christy