Eighteen years ago today my first child was born.
"It's a boy. I have a son!" my husband jubilantly exclaimed.
It is difficult to remember how we spent our time before we had children. Now that our son is preparing to head to college in the fall, I don't want to remember what it was like before he was born.
Each step of this journey has brought new blessings to us.
That first night in the hospital, it took us 30 minutes to change his diaper and dress him in a clean undershirt. I was so afraid that I would hurt him, pull his arm out of the socket by slipping it into the sleeve, or something like that. I also wondered how we would ever be on time for anything again.
From the time we brought our son home from the hospital, we started establishing an evening routine. After dinner, we'd give him a warm bath, dress him in clean pajamas and read to him as we rocked him to sleep.
Oh, I know some experts say not to rock a baby to sleep, but I felt that time was important. I wanted to talk to my baby and instill in him a love of literature and language. Bedtime stories became an important part of our nightly routine.
When his sister came along about four years later, our son had come to expect that at least three picture books would be read to him each evening. When my husband would fall asleep midway through the second book, our son would gently poke his father with an elbow and a "wake up, Dad, and finish the story, please!"
At times, having a little sister was a challenge. He likes to build things. She likes to knock things down. He was very patient and kind with her, and she eventually became reluctant to knock over anything he had built ... unless he gave her permission to do so.
Once they established the all-important rule of not knocking something over unless the builder had granted permission, they played well together. She was baffled at his interest in Legos and knew that the city he had built in his room was off-limits to her and her friends.
If I close my eyes, I can see all the structures he made over the years out of cardboard, Legos and blocks. I wish his engineering professors could have seen all the art, structures, tools and weapons that were created on our toy room floor. They'll probably see similar — if not more elaborate — structures in their labs.
Perhaps they'll find some secret or hidden messages as well.
One day a message was left for me in the blocks: "You will always teach me."
I've tried to do that, Son. I hope you've enjoyed the journey half as much as I have.
Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to her at email@example.com.