4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.
Today is Jasper’s seventh birthday. I actually forgot it was today. It turns out that with planning the big party for a million kids and apparently hundreds and hundreds of dollars and man hours worth of Lego paraphernalia, the actual day of his birth slipped my mind.
I’d contacted his teacher about a craft and a snack and prepped blocks of wood for his classmates to make owls, bunnies and deer. I’d borrowed a drill, prepped five glue guns, scheduled a sitter to drive the other three to pre-school so that I could stay at his school for the craft. I’d done all this, but forgotten the day. Like, I literally bought him his first gift yesterday. Yesterday, people.
Our big save for the day? We’re bringing him to date night with us and then taking him to the Lego store for a Lego set of choice. How’s that for low impact? We already had the sitter reserved anyway.
So this morning I loaded Jasper in my husband’s nice, clean car, kissed the other monkeys good-bye, apologized to my gorgeous babysitter for how disgusting my minivan is while handing her the keys, and then I pulled out of the drive with Jasper in tow.
Just my seven-year-old and I. Like old times. Like when he was born. Like when I went back to work teaching after three months at home with him, and I dropped him off at daycare for the first time. And I remember that when I walked back into the baby room just a few hours later and picked him up and held him to me and smelled his head, I started to cry, a cry that started deep in my chest and then crumpled up my face while the women who worked in the baby room tittered and laughed at me.
These days I drop him off all kinds of places. I mean, I asked for time away from my kids for Mother’s Day, remember? In the car on the way to school though, he asked me to tell him about when he was born.
And so I told him again about his birth, about how I woke up at exactly midnight on Mother’s Day, lying in bed as the clock hit 12:01 and it was no longer Mother’s Day. And then for the next three hours I dozed, alternately gripping the headboard in pain and then snuggling up against my snoring husband to sleep for a few minutes. Until it was time.
Then I went downstairs and threw up, called my doctor, got my overnight bag. My husband drove us to Pennsylvania Hospital where we checked in.
I’d planned the idyllic type of birth that my mother couldn’t for her first child- epi-dural and a glass of whatever he’s having, please. Hours later, after the epidural had been cut off (damn doctor) and he and my husband were saying things like, “IF YOU’RE SCREAMING, YOU’RE NOT TRYING!” and, “This is so awesome. You should see what your body just did!” respectively, Jasper was born.
When they lay him on my chest for the first time I was gobsmacked. He was absolutely perfect.
A few days later, as I stood on the busy Philadelphia sidewalk waiting for my husband to pull our car around, I was suddenly alone in the world with my son for the first time. Just me and Jasper. Jasper and me. And I started to cry. How was I going to do this?!
And just then my doctor walked out, the one who talked to me like he was my college lacrosse coach, the one who actually said, “Gees. This baby was way bigger than I thought!”… while stitching me up. (We have it on tape. Seriously.)
He said, “WHADYA CRYING FOR?! YOU’LL DO FINE. YOU GOT THIS, KID!”
Yes, it’s seven years later; seven years of watching my boy grow tall and strong, play the piano and soccer, draw intricate patterns, play chess and Qwirkle, read and write, be kind and mean, fight for fairness, remember everything, feel deeply, grow ever more affectionate and painfully independent.
And so today, I stood back and watched my seven-year-old boy follow his classmates over to the rug for circle time.
Then he turned to me, took my hand and sat me on the floor at the edge of the rug. He plopped onto my lap, pressing himself into me, right there, in front of the pretty girl he adores and the cool surfer teacher he worships and the rugged boys he tackles at recess. I may have even smelled his hair, right there during circle time.
Sitting there, melting our bodies back together, he grabbed each of my arms and wrapped them snugly around his strong chest. It was like for one beautiful moment I was the carseat and he was the child, or he was the baby pressed up under my rib cage and I was the mother waiting to be born.
Happy 7th birthday, to the boy who started it all.