m wood pen

freelance illustrator: have pen, will travel


10/19/2011

10.19.11 10.19.90

last night there was much teasing and lots of eye rolling.  much merriment, a mexican feast, and the always amusing gift-opening fun.

the occasion was a festive dinner in the city on the eve of my sons 21st birthday.  the eye rolls belonged to his two sisters.  granted, that’s the cool part about siblings & a goofball parent: teasing is part of the turf…life’s too short not to have thick skin and a sense of humor, right?

the trouble started when, chatting about the day at hand, noel said that it hadn’t hit him yet…it didn’t feel like his birthday yet…he didn’t feel 21…none of the right stuff had kicked in yet to have him leap into that knowing that comes to you, just one day a year, that it’s your friggin’ day, bring in all of the balloons, stacks of present, shiny toys, sparkling ribbons, back slaps and rounds of dos equis.  it was my reply to his statement that got the gals guffawing.

i shrugged, smiled, and said, “well, you won’t feel it until 5:55.”

he smiled and said, “i know!”

and that was it, bam, open the doors of raw, rough, hilarious teasing….and knowing it was coming, i waved absently to hallie and said, “mid-afternoon” and pointed to corey, barely taking a break from enjoying some spectacular guacamole, “late-morning.”  eye rolls, eye rolls, and a blast of words flying out faster than a rocket ship to the moon.

you see, the issue at hand, and it’s no secret so i can blab about it on the internet, is that i’m just a bit fuzzy when it comes to remembering some kind of important information…like, well, the exact time that my 2nd and 3rd babies were born.

i know…i can say, well, i was heavily drugged; or your father’s watch was broken; or i was too consumed with euphoric joy i forgot to ask the time; or the nurse was blocking the clock; or…or…or…or.

these girls are smart.  none of those are going to fly, trust me: i’ve probably tried throwing out those, and more, excuses over the last 19 and 16 years…none of them stick.  and i’m a lousy liar.  the truth is that i know hallie arrived in the middle of the afternoon, so at least there’s that.  i had been in excruciating pain and figure that if i can at least come up with a chunk of time, that’s pretty good.  corey, well, i tried going into this over dinner, but they begged me to shut up…but that girl arrived like a cannonball and i was so shaken and wiped out, i (unusual for me) turned down the offer of a nice lunch.  so, sleuthing with that clue, i know she was born a bit before lunch time.  see?  i’m sort of close, right?

really, there’s no form of apology i can conjure up at this point in time: it’s just a fact of our lives that there’s only one moment in time that is etched into my old brain and bones, and it has nothing to do with which child (are you listening, gals?), i swear!  and as a coda of vital truth: this little issue of memorizing time on a clock has nothing to do with the absolute singular truth: i love ’em all exactly the same!

what sets mr. 5:55 apart from the pack is, of course, a lot to do with him, but more directly, it has to do with me.  and his dad (cuz let me share the spotlight here: i’ll bet you he’s as fuzzy on those times, too!).

5:55 was the moment that it all began.  that my life changed inalterably, infinitely, profoundly.

from just me…city girl, college grad, sibling, fun friend, interior designer, wife…then omg flip the world up on end and look at what has just happened and it was of course all our idea but bam, this terrifyingly intensely important overwhelming undeniable moniker: i was a mother.

what?

and so, here it is.  the baby needs you, you drop EVERYTHING, and take care of the baby.  there’s no “me first” anymore.  you’re only as happy as your saddest child.  they’re hungry, you give them the last cracker.  and you’re actually glad to do it!  your social life, your vacations, your holidays, your sleep patterns, your bank account all do a flippity-flip in one fell swoop. the ride began.

and the ride continues.  speaking of rides, i was just mulling over the momentous goings on of today, and browsing facebook at the same time.  i spotted some posts that told of great things: a fancy house addition, an exotic trip abroad, a to-die-for hot new expensive car….wow, look at the cool stuff some of my friends are up to.  right?  then my brain shifted a bit to life as i know it.  none of that for me, and i found this profound joy in feeling and understanding the beauty of sacrifice.

this summer, i was waving a 20.00 bill around madly.  one of these crazy kids needed some cash, AGAIN, so i pulled some money out of my wallet, with a snarky comment, “maybe one of these days my money will actually be spent on me!”  the three of them looked at each other, more eye rolling, and laughed. someone grabbed the do-re-mi, and off they went.

so despite my wisenheimer, smart-alecky wise-cracks, they know that i couldn’t imagine life with only me.  take the money and run, take my shoes, take the dog (please!), take my love and my nurturing and zoom on to a fabulously wonderful happy life.  the privilege is all mine, trust me.

so, 21 years ago today, well, he was ambling on his way to fill his lungs with air and sparkle his eyes of blue and stretch his go go go strong legs and reach those adorable plump hands into the air.  and me?  taking a big deep breath, the biggest one i’d ever felt compelled to take, and just getting on with it.

can you measure love?  can you measure joy?  can you measure any of it?  i think i can, not by acquiring or owning or buying or flying or getting: but by giving.  and watching.  and feeling.  and knowing.  love.  it’s always and only love.

2 thoughts on “twenty-one

  1. Jan Murphy says:

    Wow, tha’s all I can say. Lovely, Mel.

  2. Brian says:

    Alas, even in my desk-drawer records I only have Hallie as a 7-24 birth, no hour on her version of the birth certificate. Let’s be honest, Hallie defies teh bounds of time–always has and will.

    Corey was 11:43 am, if you ever want to change your story. This is perhaps why she hates to wake up before 11:30 am.

    Noel was 5:51 pm–though 5:55 is much catchier and memorable. My favorite growing-up Jersey number for him was when he was “5” so I say you stick with your story here.

    — HCN’s dad

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