T, my dear boy, is on my mind. He’s away at camp and most likely having the time of his life. He celebrated his birthday on Monday, the first one that I did not see him at least part of the day. When he was little I used to take the day off from work. I’d treat myself in the morning and in the afternoon we would do something together. Now his absence feels like a presence. There’s no one here whistling up the stairs, no one asking me to pick a card, to watch his magic trick. No tall person to hug as I’m headed out the door to go to work. Nor is there anyone here to bug me about his driver’s permit, or retell an episode of Dr Who or relay all of his latest findings from the Internet. Life with a teenager is full, and never boring.
I wrote him a journal entry on Monday. I’ve been doing it since before he was born. I thought I would stop when he turned 10, but there’s still room in the book, so I keep writing– mostly on holidays and special occasions. Just for kicks I looked up the Born Today website; and what a surprise, so much of what they said truly depicted T or at least my version of him. He likes to dress up, he loves special occasions, he likes to perform. He is a fashionable trendsetter. He has no patience for liars or hypocrites. He was born too late–he should have been born in the age of magnificent legends.
Funny that, I think he came a little early. M and I had been married less than 4 months when I got pregnant. For a portion of my pregnancy I lived alone in our apartment in New Jersey; commuting in to the World Trade Center, living for the few moments each day when I could talk to M on the pay phone outside of Boston Market. The Counting Crows “A Long December” on steady repeat in my head. Sickness and nausea in the morning giving way to a calmness in the afternoon. One day in a fit of desperation and loneliness, I called my old boss. We share a name, a deep love of books and many other connections. She gave me my first job and mentored me into adulthood. The news of my pregnancy was still fresh in my mind and I was trying to make sense of it all, to get an experienced perspective. She told me that the baby must really want to be born and that he was going to be great, maybe president. She thought of his creation as magical. That he somehow managed to be created even though M and I barely saw each other, due to our crazy schedules and me traveling so much.
I took those words to heart, dried my tears and tried to have a new outlook. I still repeat them to myself know and then. I know every mother thinks her child is amazing, it’s what keeps us going. A survival tactic if you will.
We created them and in a sense they created us. Without them we would not be parents. (Which brings to mind that heartbreaking scene in John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars.” If you haven’t read it, you must.) It changes the lens through which we see the rest of the world. And sometimes my life is like that, a kaleidoscope that keeps turning. The same pieces breaking apart and reconnecting into different patterns, scenarios and situations; some are recognizable and others possess a beauty I haven’t glimpsed before.
This is the first time I didn’t speak to T on his birthday I’m sure it won’t be the last. I imagine it’s a milestone of sorts. I’m starting to see this new future we are creating, while at the same time wondering what his future holds: performer, author, economist? Entertainer, comforter, hand holder. Son, husband, father. We are always evolving.
Through each transformation we see things differently. And how we see it, the canvas on which it is presented, often changes. Like trying to capture a sunset with your camera, and being surprised at the exquisiteness of the distortion in the window. Driving by the water and noticing that the too blue sky is almost close enough to touch. The brand new toes cradled in his father’s lap as they sit listening in the storytime circle startle you into a recognition of your own past. Reflections put in front of you that which was behind you, allowing you to observe this magic with your own eyes. Your heart bearing witness to the as-yet-undiscovered beauty to be found all around you.