In about three months, I’ll give birth to a son. I guess I have the typical worries of any first-time mom-to-be. Worries like: How will I deal with no sleep? Will the delivery be agonizing, or not so bad? Will I ever like the taste of wine again? And, of course, will my butt, thighs and ankles ever be the same?
But I do have another worry that plagues me.
See, I was born and raised in Texas.
Well, he’ll be a California baby.
His birth certificate will say Los Angeles, not Fort Worth or Plano or Austin. He’ll be born in a city devoid of bluebonnets and low on Blue Bell ice cream. Of course, there are plenty of Texans scattered throughout this accent-less city, but it’s not the same. And so, my true dilemma is this: How can I raise a Texan outside of Texas?
When I found out we were expecting, I quickly snapped into action and Googled “Old West baby names,” which is how we decided on what to call the kid. My husband quickly agreed to one of the names on the list, so I’ve found some solace in that. I’ve also vowed to teach him to say “y’all,” even though my Yankee husband doesn’t understand the massive importance of that small contraction.
I’ve also Googled “infant cowboy boots” thinking some tiny shoes might help fill him with a sense of belonging. But the thought of leather cowboy boots on a baby is insane, right? Even mini cloth cowboy boots may be a little too much.
I don’t want to be that mom. I guess, I’ll get him cowboy boots at a more appropriate age. Like, when he’s two.
I know you may be thinking: “Can’t you bring him to Fort Worth and Houston to see his grandparents and cousins often enough?” Sure, I can! I can also give him Blue Bell ice cream in those tiny cups with wooden spoons, if they still exist. But will he ever really know what it’s like being a Texan, deep down in his bones? Will he say “yes ma’am” and “no sir,” or will he just grunt out a “huh?” like they do in other parts of the country?
When I was 18, I made the choice to leave Texas. But, Texas has never left me!
So, it’s weighing on me that this little person won’t have a place like I do. Sure, Los Angeles is a place, but it’s not an identity. Kids here don’t ride horses in 100 percent humidity during the summer, when it’s so hot the grass looks like burnt hay. They don’t know “The Yellow Rose of Texas” by heart. And they definitely don’t grow up hearing strangers say things like, “Don’t piss on my hat and tell me it’s raining.”
I guess unless we actually move to Texas, all I can do is take him there as often as I can – and make my accent extra thick when I speak to him, take him to some rodeos, and make sure he knows what queso is – at the appropriate age, of course. I can hope he learns to love my beloved Texas as much as I do. But, that’s unlikely. He may never have the same attachment and nostalgia for that land as his mom has.
You can’t control who or what your kids become. But I will sure try to open his heart to the place that shaped me, and my parents and grandparents before that.
If all else fails, I guess, toddler cowboy boots will just have to do.