Sixteen years ago, I was given the most beautiful gift of my life. At the age of 37, I had two children, and according to my life plan, my childbearing duty was done. I had joyfully completed years of baby nursing and toddler chasing, and while I loved those years, I was now ready for adventure. His father and I had taken up running as a hobby, bought a camper, and traveled around the east coast racing in half marathons three or four times a year. Physically I was in the best athletic shape of my life.
Alas, God had another plan for us.
Throughout the pregnancy, I continued to run. At six months pregnant, I ran my last 5 K of the season in under 30 minutes, and won first in my age group. Of the three, this was my easiest pregnancy. I did a lot of research making sure running was healthy for the child, and found that it was highly recommended as long as the mother was used to running and stopped when there was pain. As a matter of fact, I read studies that babies born of mothers who ran during pregnancy were healthier and had higher IQ’s. I knew in my heart and still do that this little boy was very special and destined for something great.
He is my only brown eyed child, and looks like my little (now big) clone. He has a sweet, loving disposition and not a selfish bone in his body. He can be funny, talkative, or quiet and thoughtful. He takes in everything around him, analyzes it and comes up with own ideas. He is like a sponge, soaking up knowledge from everywhere. At sixteen, he, at least to me, seems wise beyond his years.
As a young child, his favorite things were matchbox cars – he collected about a million – and legos – at least two million. Before the age of three, he was able to recognize cars and trucks on the street by their make and model. This always amazed me, and I figured it was something he got from his dad. Legos were one of our favorite things to play together. First, he and I would put the sets together according to the instructions, with Connor always correcting me when I messed up. Then, when he was tired of playing with it in its factory design, he would take them apart and build new designs according to his imagination. He built them into airplanes, race cars, houses and forts with creative flair. Connor loved to be social and play with other kids, but he was often happiest playing quietly in his room for hours building legos or lining up his matchbox cars.
Connor has experienced many challenges in his young life, some good and some not so good. When he was ten, his father and I parted ways. This was a traumatic time for him. I worried, because he was so quiet and refused to talk about it. His life has been split between two homes, and he has seen the ups and downs of relationships and new people being introduced into his life, for better or for worse. He watched as his older brother and sister grew up and moved out on their own. I always tell him I learn from my mistakes, so he will turn out perfect. And, for the most part he is.
Four and one half years ago, June 2012, we bought some land, which we hoped would become a farm. In August of 2013, we sold the house he grew up in and left his neighborhood of Applewood subdivision, and moved into a small rental house in Proctorville while we planned and built a house on the farm land. At first, he was not happy about this move. His fear was moving away from his friends and his familiar surroundings. He was not so sure that farming was for him. He didn’t have a place to ride his skateboard, and video games and TV seemed so much safer. Over time, he has made new friends and realized he didn’t miss the neighborhood kids much anyway because everyone was always busy with their own lives.
Joining 4 H five years ago opened doors and opportunities to learn about things we didn’t know existed. Each year, he has raised Market Chickens and entered them in the fair. The first year was a learning experience, but he still managed to win first in his age group, and fourth overall for best chickens. During his second year, he won Showman of Showmen in the junior division. In addition to chickens, he has gone on to experience other projects such as dog obedience training, shooting sports and goat showmanship.
The farm has given Connor experiences that he would otherwise never see. We raise chickens for eggs and have even hatched a few of our own. He has raised and bottle fed lambs, goat kids, milked a goat and drank fresh goat’s milk. He knows all about deworming, vaccinating, hoof trimming, and many other vet duties to keep the animals healthy. He can grow a garden, bale hay, use a screw gun and a saw, and chop wood with an ax. He has learned responsibility and the value of hard work. He knows where our food comes from, and that blood, birth, growth, health and death are all parts of farming, the food chain, and the circle of life.
And so, the boy who was once my baby is now a young man entering a new and challenging phase of his life. Mama is not as smart as she used to be, and farm chores have become a bit of an inconvenience. Cars, girls, college classes, weightlifting, and plans for the future fill his mind and occupy his time. One day, maybe I will get smart again and he will remember all those valuable skills he’s learned. Still, I am a proud mother who is grateful to have been given this son, a beautiful gift and a second chance, and thankful for each day as I watch you grow. Happy Birthday, Connor. I love you with all my heart. Mom
My name is Christy Franklin.