HOLMDEL, NJ—No one needs to tell Suzanne Glauber that she's been blessed. She knows it. As the 33-year-old homemaker puts it, she's filled with an overwhelming sense of "spiritual wholeness" and "personal well-being" every time she looks at her 5-year-old son Dakota.
"Dakota makes me feel so complete," said Glauber, gazing with deep affection and devotion at her grubby, disheveled son, who was searching for a wall on which to wipe a mass of mucus he had rooted from his nose. "Even after I got married, I still sensed that something was missing from my life. But the day Dakota was born, that void was filled."
"I knew I always wanted to have a child, but I honestly didn't realize just how magical motherhood would be," said Glauber, enduring repeated kicks to the shins from a cookie-demanding Dakota. "Of course, you can't really know what it's like until you go through it. And I thank God daily that I did."
After waddling into the kitchen and devouring two individually wrapped Little Debbie Zebra Cakes, Dakota sat down in the living room among a pile of toys he had strewn across the floor. Picking up a large dump truck, he dropped it on a smaller toy helicopter, causing it to shatter. He then forced open the remote control to an off-road stunt racer, tore out its battery coils, and gummed up its wiring with sticky cookie crumbs and a large gob of drool from his shirt sleeve.
"You know, it's supposedly the parent's job to teach the child," Glauber said. "But I'm the one who's always learning new things from Dakota. Things like grace, understanding and the wonder of childhood. And most of all, he teaches me the bliss of pure, unconditional love."
Dakota has taught his mother a great many other things, as well, including how to whine like a hyena, refuse to go to bed, scribble doodles on the wall, yank the cat's tail and watch endless hours of TV in a semi-catatonic state, rousing himself only, and to near-hysteria, when someone tries to change the channel.
"Dakota is the summit of all my hopes and dreams, and if I fail him, I fail myself—and the world," Glauber said. "And I'm determined not to let that happen."
"He truly is a miracle," continued Glauber, removing a collector's plate from the living-room curio cabinet and placing it on the dining-room table. Ornately decorated with rosy-cheeked cherubim, the plate bears the gold-leaf inscription, "As God Makes Each Snowflake Different, So He Does With Every Precious Child."
"I got this plate at the mall the other day, and for me, it really sums it all up," Glauber said. "Sometimes my husband teases me about indulging Dakota too much, and maybe I do. But I'm convinced that God gives us children to help us understand just how wonderful and rich life is."
As his mother finished speaking, Dakota careened his Big Wheel into the dining-room table, causing the collector plate to fall to the floor and shatter. He then darted away as fast as his considerable girth and lack of coordination would allow.
Dakota's father Donald, a 39-year-old systems analyst for Digitek Industries in nearby Manalapan, shared his own feelings for his only child.
"Frankly, if it was up to me, I'd dope up the kid so full of Ritalin, he could be used as a paperweight," said Glauber, speaking from a local tavern. "But you know how the wife is: 'He's a little angel sent from heaven,' and all that crap. Whatever. She can deal with him. It's no mistake I've been working all this overtime lately."
"And by the way," Glauber added, "in case you're wondering, it was the wife's idea to name him Dakota."