Well, you’re definitely taller than me now. You’re definitely more quiet. But you always have been. You definitely have much more expensive taste than me. Stop that.
I knew — even before I met you, that I had to meet you. I didn’t exactly plan on getting pregnant. You were a bit of a surprise. Getting pregnant at 23 is not for the faint of heart-at least not around these parts-however, as soon as I found out, that was that. Of course, your dad was so excited! But he is crazy and 100 years older than me.
It turns out that life (and you) had a funny way of teaching me how to become a person for someone else. It has been the secret to my happiness.
I remember lying on my bed, in that little cape cod house we rented, scared to death about the prospect of growing a life….in my body! Yes, I know that is how it works, but it was beyond my comprehension. The thing is, somehow deep inside or deep beyond, I knew I had to be your mother. The irony was, I could barely pay my rent and buy groceries but now I was going to care for a baby. Right.
Another small note about my 23 year old self was, I was allergic to babies. Not in the sense that my eyes and throat would swell shut, but babies made me feel nauseous and gave me a bit of a headache. So, to say I was terrified is an understatement.
That day-still lying there in my malaise-my mind immediately fast forwarded to you as a teenager. Was it a psychic premonition? Who’s to say? But my premonition was extremely vivid and colorful. I saw acne, and girls, and you being tall. Really tall. I was also doing simple math equations. How old would I be when you would be going through puberty? 37-ish. My inner monologue screamed “Me parenting a teenager?! NO WAY! I remember being a teenager because it was exactly 5 seconds ago and we are horrible creatures! Oh Dear Sweet God.”
And now here we are, and it went by like a dream/ fairytale/ messy science experiment. And it went by as fast as everyone says it does. And it doesn’t seem fair, and I want it to stop, but I don’t want it to stop. This whole experience is hysterically beautiful.
Maybe because my premonition was so vivid and colorful is the reason I am so emotional for this birthday. The only difference is I am not scared anymore. Being your mom is truly the greatest decision I could have ever made.
Now my heart aches in a way I don’t understand. It feels full of pride and heartache at the same time. I’m comparing this to the moment you were born, and looking into your dark black eyes, curious and confused about where the hell you just came from, to now, looking up at you wondering where the hell are you going.
And basically that is it. That IS what being a parent is about. It is MOSTLY the unknown. You shuffle along not knowing what will happen next. You try your best not to screw up, even though that part is inevitable. I am learning that being a parent is about hanging on for dear life, and as simple as letting go. Aunt Mimi put it perfectly “Having children is like reading a set of IKEA instructions… upside down. Before you know it you put the henge on the wrong damn door!” The good news is, you can unscrew it and try again.
It’s been 14 years of growing and learning together.
You are so precious, my dear son. Thank you for these past 14 years and for teaching me how to reach outside of myself and to be someone for other people. I love you.
Original Artwork by Michele Gruet