I turned around and suddenly he was a man

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

 It was just about this time of year 23 years ago that I was struck with a fast and unusual malaise.

I didn’t think a lot about it. I was a mother of two, ages 5 and 7, and working two jobs so it was only natural I was always fatigued.

But when it persisted for three months, I went to the see the family doctor.

After a quick once-over, he stepped out of the office. When he returned he spoke words that changed my life forever.

“You’re pregnant,” he said.

I just looked at him as if he were an alien from a distant planet.

“Don’t you have to have sex to be pregnant?” I asked him.

“Of course,” he answered.

“Well, I haven’t,” I said.


Today no one believes that story, but I promise you it’s true.

Well, someone does believe it–my youngest child, Spencer.

From the fateful day in spring 1990 until today, it is the story he and I share and chuckle about his “immaculate conception.”

He was a wrinkly little creature when he was born on Thanksgiving Day 1990–the smallest at birth of all three of my children–but in no time he filled out and had the most beautiful long golden curls. He was almost four before we cut it and only then because his father was becoming more and more agitated when strangers complimented us on our beautiful little girl.

It didn’t help that the Christmas he was four Spencer asked for a vacuum and kitchen set. (He was the only boy at his babysitter’s and playing house was their favorite pastime.)

That phase soon passed and housekeeping gave way to Power Rangers and soccer.

In between he became a true patriot, carrying a little flag he called America with him and waving it down the hallway as he sang the “Barney” song over and over and over.

When he was 10 and terrorists struck the World Trade Centers, Spencer made a banner for his bicycle proclaiming his love for our country and road up and down our  driveway hoping someone would see and know that we would not be defeated–we were Americans.

The next year his father and I separated. We made the decision that Spencer would stay with his father and I would see him as often as I liked.

I moved into an apartment seven miles away and every Friday no matter what was going on in my life, I would pick him up early from school and we’d drive to Anderson, S.C. for date night, that usually consisted of a first run movie and dinner.

And then we’d return to my house, where for the next 48 hours he had my undivided attention. I believe because I wasn’t so scattered and divided I actually became a more loving, interested parent. 

I cherished those times–I still do. And they continued until I moved to Florida.

Spencer’s senior year of high school I logged thousands and thousands of miles back to Georgia so I could be an active participant in all his senior activities. From soccer games to his performance as the Mayor of Munchkinland in the “Wizard of Oz”, I was there.

And somewhere between his 20th and 21st year, my little curly haired baby became a man. 

His body morphed, his voice deepened and I knew soon, he would be leaving the proverbial nest as he began a life independent of his father and me.

Saturday, I drove to Georgia to watch my baby receive his bachelor of science in history degree from Emmanuel College.

As I watched him walk across the stage and shake hands with the college president, I couldn’t help but shed tears, as I remembered these things and more.

While his siblings also earned college degrees, there was something different.

 He was the last one, the baby I had not planned–and wasn’t sure how I got him. But he is the one who came to me at a critical time in my life and the one who has supported me in my darkest hours. 

He has shared confidences with me, made me both laugh and cry and yes, occasionally gasp in horror as he honestly told me of teenage exploits I’d rather not have known.

We are honest with one another and we love  fiercely.

He is a son any mother would be proud to call her own, but no. I alone can claim that honor.

He is Spencer Andrew Risner, a young man whose future is bright and limitless.

He is my son and I am blessed.