Ninja Boy is named after an awesome man, Ninja Senior. Today is his 80th birthday- I want to share a bit about why I love this guy and why he was the perfect choice to honor our son with his name.
When my husband and I met the stars aligned, our hearts beat as one and we had this instantaneous, overwhelming need to be each other’s everything. You know, the cliché love at first sight featured in sappy chick flicks every summer, only without someone dying at the end to show the deeper meaning of life. Anyway, within two weeks of meeting each other we had already booked the hall for our wedding ceremony and reception, telling our parents we were on the way to matrimony before they even had a chance to meet their future child-in-law. Meeting each other’s families was an affair spread out between trips to St. Louis and Detroit from our home in Chicago, making appearances at parties and smiling politely while trying to remember backstories and names.
But this story, our story about naming our son, was built not on the stories of distant past, but on the present moment of feeling so loved and protected in my new family that I could call Ninja Senior my Grandpa and mean it. My husband’s grandfather is an amazing man with amazing stories to tell. He has never been anything less than awesome to me. In his silent gestures, his firm arm around my shoulders to show me he wants to protect me, in his tenderness while playing trains with our kids, in his jokes that only make sense to him but still make me laugh because of the way he tells them, he has become a person I trust, love and honor. Family isn’t always blood, it is the choosing of your tribe of supporters and uplifting people, your seeing eye dogs and well canaries, the people who you would drop everything and run to if they need something. In this, I am so grateful that my life has handed me Ninja Sr., he and his wife Sensei are my people- they make life better simply by being in it with us.
As I have alluded to in other posts, I am so terrible at staying pregnant that our lives were fraught with failed attempts at becoming parents from the earliest moments of my marriage. Chemical Pregnancies, miscarriages and dangerous attempts at parenthood filled our first years together, and the year between giving birth to Twinkle Toes and Ninja. When we were a few months into our pregnancy with Ninja, when the placental abruption hadn’t started but our fears about the pregnancy had, we decided to name him after Ninja Senior.
I knew that Ninja Boy needed to be a fighter while in utero. I knew that he had to have the mind and spirit of someone so strong that the universe would take note and help him make it out alive. In short, I knew he had to take after Ninja Senior. If I could will the kindness of spirit, the love of life and the humility Ninja Senior possessed into our developing fetus, if I could send him the traits he would need to make it to his inaugural birthday, then I felt we were doing our part at giving him a fair shot.
We struggled mightily throughout our pregnancy, but in the end the most perfect baby boy I have ever met came out screaming, shocking those of us who thought his lungs wouldn’t be ready to utter a noise. Ninja Senior and his beautiful wife Sensei came for a visit soon after, traveling hundreds of miles to meet the newest little one. They have since spent their Thanksgivings at our house, participating in our traditions and bringing some of their own. We moved further away from them and they still come. Sensei lost her sight and they still come. Ninja Sr. had major health issues and they still come. In their presence I know I am loved as much as if I had been born into their family- in their presence I see intense love for our children, appreciation for our parenting and contentment with my mothering abilities. They make me feel more at ease, more capable and confident.
I cannot wait until Ninja Boy gets older and wants to know about his name- I can share with him the stories of a Grandpa whose presence was so keenly important we wanted to keep him with us at all times, even when he was hundreds of miles away. I can share the funny stories, the touching stories, and maybe when he is older the sad ones. And most of all I can share with him the honor that it is to be named after Ninja Senior. Thanks for being awesome, and Happy birthday to you. Our lives are immeasurably better because they are tied to your heart.