I love this picture of Levi.
I wasn’t planning on having a baby so soon after Arwen weaned herself, but the fact was: I was pregnant again. Pregnant and miserable. I decided I wasn’t a very good pregnant person. I certainly did not want little old women patting my tummy and asking me if I was having twins or not. Deep down, I knew I was having a son, but we could not agree on a boy’s name. As the due date approached, I started thinking it might be a good time to agree on a name, but if he decided to be late, too… What was the hurry?
He was due on September 6. And shortly after midnight, 9/6, I felt the first of many strong contractions. I also came up with a name: Levi Aaron. When I finally woke Don up to tell him I was in labor, I found him dozing lightly. He said he finally came up with a name: Levi Aaron.
In the months preceding Levi’s arrival, I had drawn stick figures and made little story books for Arwen so she would understand what was going to happen. She was not invited to the birth, but I had a good babysitter lined up and I assured her “this is how your baby brother/sister will come into the world.” With the exception of intense back labor that stopped suddenly when I took a nap, Levi was following the script. Then my midwife announced he was posterior: instead of staring at my sine, he was contemplating my belly button! We had to turn him so his head could slip into the birth canal. I held Don’s thumbs (poor man!) and during a strong contraction, my midwife got Levi to engage.
Seven minutes later we were holding our son, a perfect midwife home birth story: no tears, no complications, only a 10#3.5oz baby boy with a perfectly formed head. Welcome to the world, Levi. When I prayed over my infant son, I saw only one thing: Gideon. My son was called to be a warrior. Me, the hippie peace-nik, mother of a warrior.
As soon as he could talk, he was funny. He never shut up. He thought deeply about things and asked questions. “What happens when tree roots collide?”
I was a parttime working mom during his preschool years and he was my constant commuting companion. While I worked, he roamed the halls of the church we were remodeling, helping the construction workers apply spackle, hammer nails, and whatever other odd jobs they could show him. The men enjoyed him and showed him all kinds of trade tricks. When we started our homeschool journey, all I had to do was hand him a hammer and some nails, and he was off building something.
Levi got his first bicycle for his third birthday. Before long, I noticed something odd about the way he rode his bike: he wasn’t using the training wheels at all. We removed the training wheels and he took off, a free bird! Every older kid in the neighborhood rushed to have their training wheels taken off of their bikes! Levi was in love. His bike was (and is) his passion.
He’s my outdoor kid. I have photos after photos of Levi doing something outdoors: fishing, hiking, camping, shooting rifles, riding his bike, hunting. Somewhere, I have a photo of him dressed up in feed bags. If we had a class (which we didn’t in our homeschool life), he was the Class Clown. He was also a classic flirt.
He toyed with the idea of attending public high school until he realized that he would be required to retake his freshman year, not because he had failed but because the State of Oregon could make him go back to the class he started with simply because of his birthdate. He felt he was beyond that and opted to pick up classes at the community college. He picked up art and creative writing and, my favorite: swing dance lessons. He always liked the music of the swing era, now he was learning to dance to it.
We knew he was talking to the recruiters on campus, but we didn’t know he was thinking seriously of enlisting until he was 17. This was what he wanted to do: join the army and have the government pay for his education. I wanted to talk him out of it, but at what point do you let go and let your children grow up? We signed the papers and let him go. He left home at the same age I left home: two thirds through his 17th year. He turned 18 the day after he graduated from basic training.
I am very proud of Levi, my very funny son. He served in South Korea and visited the DMZ. He completed his five jumps at Fort Benning to earn his Airborne wings. He is still serving his country, but I think he is trying to figure out what to do next with his young life. He is an amazing inspiration to me: stubborn, opinionated, self educated, determined, talented. He has many layers and depths. Maybe that is why I like that picture of him.