The Year Of The Cat 4-10-15

My son Skyler  was born on August 5, 1990. I was 26 years old at the time. Skyler was my first child so like most moms, I was scared and had no idea how to be a mom. While I was pregnant, I had this crazy notion my life was over. It didn’t help that I was going to be a single mom still living at home with my parents. As it turned out, my life wasn’t over, it was only just beginning. 

While I was pregnant with Skyler,  I took every precaution to eat healthy, I worked out every day and only gained 30 pounds my entire pregnancy. My doctor would tell me at every visit that I was going to bounce back in to shape as soon as the baby was born. I took his words literally. As a first time mom, I literally believed that as soon as I had my baby I would be fit and trim just like I was before I became pregnant. Imagine my surprise when I looked under the covers after having my son expecting to see those 6-pack abs I had waited anxiously to see for nine months, only to be surprised with an unrecognizable blob that certainly didn’t resemble a 6-pack. I started screaming!!  The nurses tried consoling me while I cried and when my doctor came in to the room I wanted to throw my shoes at him for lying!!  As I look back I find myself laughing at the spectacle I made of myself that day. I’m sure I’ve been the subject at many Christmas Parties where doctors exchange tails of nightmare patients. 

Skyler was born early Sunday morning. He was beautiful. It was hard to imagine I had carried something so beautiful inside of me for nine months. My parents and I were thrilled. He was such a blessing. I fondly think of the many mornings my dad and I would lay Skyler down as we hovered over him to stare at him with loving eyes and hearts filled with so much love and adoration. He made our hearts melt. He was like a little doll. Our doll. Skyler was our little gift from the sky and we were over the moon excited!

As Skyler grew up, I would tell him the story that when he was born, we knew that God had sent him to us. I used to tell him that he was so beautiful when he was born and he made us so happy I knew God had sent him to us because to me he was our little gift from the sky. That’s why I named him Skyler. He’s 24 years old and he’s still my little gift from the sky. He always will be. 

There is nothing that can really prepare any of us for becoming parents. Sure there are books, videos and he even doctors who claim they have all the answers but I don’t believe that to be true. I feel our parenting skills are developed on the job. We learn through experience. I’ve often said to my kids while they were whining or complaining about my “not so perfect” parenting skills “I’m so sorry but my insurance didn’t cover the “How To Be The Perfect Parent” manual when you were born so I’m doing the best I can!”.  A statement that more often than not has infuriated my children. 

Skyler was a busy body from the get go. He kept me on my toes. As a child he was in to everything. If he wasn’t taking apart radios, he was outside playing in the dirt pretending to be a construction worker or truck driver. As he grew a little older he developed an imagination along with an infatuation for James Bond. He loved all of the James Bond movies. I remember one summer when he changed his name to James Bond. He would only answer to that name. He took on the roll of the spy by wearing a black suit my parents had bought him at JC Penneys every day for the entire summer, even when it was 110 degrees outside. He had pens in his pocket that he claimed were secret weapons, scopes made out of paper towel rolls, water guns…the list goes on. When he would be in trouble and he’d hear me say “Skyler Cole Dunkin”, he was quick to infuriate me by answering “the names Bond…..James Bond!”  I wanted to kill him!!

Skyler gave up the roll of James  Bond as he grew in to a teenager. While he was and still is a good kid with a big heart, like any teenager, he drove me nuts. I’ll admit I experienced my share of moments with my son. And believe me, there were no books to prepare me for the teenage years. I recall opening my AT & T phone bill one month and nearly fainting when I saw an $800 charge on my bill. They were all from Skyler. As it turned out, Skyler had racked up 4567 text messages that month that resulted in an unimaginable charge of $800. As I reviewed the text messages, they were all during school hours. I was furious. Of course I tried very hard to contain my composure when I approached my son. I called him on his phone and our conversation went a little like this:

Skyler – “hello”

Me (very cool, calm & collected) – “hi sky. I got my phone bill today & I’m curious to know how you were able to rack up 4567 text messages last month?”

Skyler – “hmmm is that a lot?”

Me (trying really hard not to reach through the phone and strangle his neck) – “I’d say, considering they were all during school hours and my phone bill is $800!”

Skyler – “well…..I don’t know what to tell you. That sucks”. 

I couldn’t breathe when I heard his response. I was on the “kill” mode!  What my son did next made me so angry I started to scream and cry from anger!!!  He hung up on me!!!  How dare he do that to me?!! I was his mother.

The phone company was understanding and wrote off many of the charges but I was angry for many days to come. I had this high school mentality that made me want to get back at my son but really, what kind of mother would I be? A week or so later, Skyler and I were alone in the car traveling to a nearby town which was 30 miles away. Pay backs are hell. I played “The Year Of The Cat” by Al Stewart the entire trip. I knew Skyler hated the song and despite his pleas and begging  for me to stop playing the song, I played it over and over again the entire trip!!!  My reply to Skyler was “it’s my car and I’ll listen to what I want to!”  I laugh every time I recall that day and seeing my son sitting in the passenger seat with his hands over his ears saying “please stop!” That’ll teach any teenager to ever text 4567 times again!!!  I am including a YouTube video for all you parents reading. I suggest you download this tune and always have it as a back up!!!

Skyler graduated from high school and went off to college. He was home for spring break and invited many of his “buddies” over one night to listen to music and watch movies. I have a huge collection of CD’s that consist of everything from the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s. I love music!!!  Although, I have to admit I’m guilty of being stuck in a time warp when it comes to music. I still listen to Motown, The Bee Gees, Andy Gibb, AC/DC, Steely Dan, Chicago, The Doobie Brothers, Van Morrison and yes…..I still love the band America. I’m very protective of my collection of music. After all, my collection is vintage. A few days after Skyler’s friends had been over I went to grab my America CD to listen to in my car. I looked through my entire collection over and over but I couldn’t find it. I panicked!!!  I was distraught about it all day. That night before dinner I told Skyler that my America CD was missing and I was devastated. I asked him very politely and in a non-accusatory way if it was possible that either he or his friends may have taken it. I’ll never forget what happened next. Skyler looked at me with a shocked and disgusted look on his face and said “you’re kidding me, right?”  To which my reply was “no I’m not. I’m not accusing you or your friends but maybe you took it accidentally” (wink, wink). Skyler was so insulted that he looked at me right in the eye saying “I can not believe you would ask me such a thing!!!! Do you honestly think my friends and I want to be driving around listening to A Horse With No Name?!! Only dorks like you still listen to that!”  I have to admit I was so insulted all I could say was “Hey, that’s a good song!”  A couple of months later I found my CD. I had put it in the wrong CD case. I still think the song is great but I’ll let you be the judge.

Today Skyler is 24 years old. He’s had his ups and he’s had his downs and through them all I’ve laughed, I’ve cried and on occasion he’s made me crazy, but what the heck, I’m a parent still in training. Through it all he’s managed to maintain that boyish, childlike smile that still captures my heart and when I hear him say “I love you momma” I melt every time. He has a heart as big as China. In fact, he’s the only boy I’ve ever known that actually gave away his brand new $150 basketball shoes to a team mate whose family couldn’t afford to buy him shoes when he was in the 8th grade. He’s  loyal, funny, extremely smart and intellectual,  he’s a protective & loving brother, a good friend and the best son a mother could ask for. I’m very blessed. 

Being a “mom in training” hasn’t always been easy. In fact, it’s been one of the most challenging jobs I’ve ever had. I’ve been through it all! And believe me, I have stories!  However, being a mom to three of the most wonderful children has been the most rewarding job I’ve ever had and the best part, my job isn’t over yet!  I still have a lot of training ahead of me. My job didn’t come with instructions, rather it has come through experience along with on the job training. I’m so blessed that most of my experience has come from my “little gift from the sky”. After all, in any position we learn as we go. Learning to be a parent beginning with the oldest child is no different.  Skyler has caused many sleepless nights, heart palpitations and moments of losing my cool but at the end of the day, I’d still “stop the world and melt for him” any day of the week.  Skyler, Kaydren and Derek will always give me the strength to keep on living. So my song today, the nerd mom that I am, is an oldie but goodie by Modern English. “I’ll Stop The World and Melt For You”. I love you Skyler Cole Perez Dunkin!  I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you for always, as long as I’m living, my little gift from the sky you’ll be!




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