jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

Circle Time, My Baby Boy Turns 7

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.


Lego cake. Fondant seemed like a good idea…
May 2014

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 yesterdayYesterday, people.


An owl in the hand…
May 2014

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.

Jen and Jasper -- day 2

Jen and Jasper (Day 2)
May 2008

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.)


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.

7 years old today!  May 2014

7 years old today!
May 2014

19 comments on “Circle Time, My Baby Boy Turns 7

  1. Eli Pacheco
    May 18, 2014

    1. Fondant is ALWAYS a good idea.

    2. 7 is cool because they grow and expand and form their own worlds, but they always seem to find their way back to our laps.

    3. If that girl he adores was paying attention, she just got a preview of what she could expect if she adored him, too.

    • jgroeber
      May 18, 2014

      Especially fondant made of marshmallows! It seems so impressive that even if you totally mess it up people are impressed. Especially 7 year-olds.
      And I’m so glad you have a good impression of 7, because I’m still holding my opinion. I’ve had a bit of pushback, shall we say. Ha!

      What a wonderful comment! Thank you.

  2. Burns the Fire
    May 18, 2014

    Happy birthday, Jasper! The priceless gift of a wonderful Mom.

    • jgroeber
      May 18, 2014

      I literally just ran outside to put sunscreen on him and he thanked me for the Lego cake. Also for the party. Also he said he was lucky to have me for a Mom. And no one was around to tell him to do that. If I didn’t write it to you this instant it would slip away, it was so ephemeral.
      And thank you.

      • Burns the Fire
        May 19, 2014

        You are doing important work. And writing about it. Inspiration all around.

        • jgroeber
          May 20, 2014

          Ah, thank you. No witty replies. Your comment is too sweet.

  3. Kelly
    May 18, 2014

    How beautiful! He’s a stunning newborn!

    • jgroeber
      May 18, 2014

      Right?! We had such high expectations for the next two but it turns out that preemies lack a certain je nais se quoi. Ha! But they all fattened up and got cute enough in the end.
      (Thank you for reading and for the lovely compliment, too!)

  4. Carol Barrel
    May 18, 2014

    And we all thank you for all of that! To a fabulous Mom, my amazing 3rd daughter, and the next breathtaking seven year ride!! Here’s to you, that snoring husband, and the awesome family you’ve blessed us with! Happy Birthday, Jas… who really started our wonderful roller coaster ride! xoxoxoxoxoxo

    • jgroeber
      May 18, 2014

      Love, love, love. You’re the best muther futher ever. Thank you, for about 6 dozen pigs-in-the-blankets and the late goody-bag fillers, and a bowl of fruit salad that even 37 kindergartners couldn’t finish off. Sometimes it doesn’t take a village so much as it takes a really good mother-in-law.

  5. kellyinrepeat
    May 18, 2014

    Seriously? We even had babies on the same day? Holy moly. Happy birthday.

    • jgroeber
      May 18, 2014

      Technically I wrote this midweek but only just posted it. (Shhhhh. Don’t tell the others.) The party was Saturday, so it didn’t feel too disingenuous.
      I am amazed though to see that our kids have such similar birthdays! I was also amazed to see that you had two teenage daughters. Oh, wait, the other “teenage daughter” in the photo you posted was you. (Seriously, that’s what I was thinking. “Hmm, I thought she had a teenage daughter and a teenage son, not two daughters…”) Happy birth day yourself!

  6. Margie S
    May 18, 2014

    Wow, sounds like an amazing celebration! Happy Birthday little guy! You just melted my heart with your school story, if that girl plays her cards right, she too may some day be on the receiving end of such great adoration.

    • jgroeber
      May 19, 2014

      Ha! Hopefully that little girl realizes the wonder of his ways. Or maybe he’ll actually notice the other little girl who stayed glued to us the whole day.

  7. Nadia
    May 19, 2014

    Happy birthday to Jasper! He’s beautiful. This made me smile hard, Jen.

    • jgroeber
      May 19, 2014

      Yay! I love when you smile hard! (And he is sort of cute, right? That girl he adores better think he’s cute…)

  8. ponymartini
    May 19, 2014

    My best could never rival your “last minute” birthday effort. You are amazing! You and Jasper are very lucky to have each other.

    • jgroeber
      May 19, 2014

      Ah, a ponymartini. Perfection.
      Thanks for stopping by and for the birthday props!

  9. Pingback: Who Doesn’t Love Dessert (Happy Birthday, Baby Girl) | jen groeber: mama art

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This entry was posted on May 17, 2014 by in Surviving Motherhood, The Children, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .

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