Every year since you were five, I have written a blog post to you, about you, for you (or maybe more for me). Due to websites shutting down or email addresses I’ve long since deleted, I can no longer access some of those posts. I had a meltdown about it in the Publix parking lot tonight. I had planned to print off (or maybe just repost them all) for you on this big birthday of yours. I’ll keep working on finding those posts, it’s now my mission.
In the past, I’ve talked about how you arrived in the world. A story that even I cannot believe I lived. I was twenty-one years old, living in Japan and pregnant. Whew. My doctor was constantly furious at me because for a solid eight weeks, I ate nothing but takoyaki from an old lady who had a grill next to the subway station. He also didn’t like that I ate chicken from another street vendor, sushi and shrimp chips from 7-11. But, when in Rome… or in this case, Japan. You also survived Papa giving you rice formula at three months old because he said you would sleep better and Super Papa rubbing whiskey on your gums when your teeth were coming in. There was also that time you barfed up tacos when you were two and didn’t eat another one until you were like twelve. Basically, you fear no food except tuna fish. I still don’t understand this.
You were born at 12:03 am, or 9:03 am on 2/12 in the States. An entire month early. My doctor was on vacation in Hawaii. The doctor who helped bring you into this world had a cast on her right leg that went all the way up to her thigh. She leaned on a crutch while telling me what to do. A bunch of guys straight out of boot camp watched because it was a “learning environment.” Poor kids.
Your Dad’s leave wasn’t approved yet, so he was out to sea, building missiles in the belly of an aircraft carrier that week. You were supposed to be born on St. Patricks Day- yet, there you were, 24 hours before Valentines Day. So tiny, so cute, with this perfectly round head that smelled so sweet. I was instantly in love with you, as most parents are after bringing another human into the world. It wasn’t until the second week of your life when I had to walk down eight flights of stairs and walk in the snow to get to the grocery store, that the panic began to settle in. How was I going to do this? You know what I did? I got the landlady to help me carry your stroller downstairs and instead of putting you in it, I put our groceries in it. I know, genius. But, we made it. I’d like to thank the scuba shop guy who had a store below our apartment building for always having hot sake for me, the curry restaurant on the corner block for holding you while I scarfed down food, the older couple at Cafe K in the Honch who loved to kiss you while I played chess, and our next door neighbor for taking care of you on your third week of existence (I hadn’t showered in days and we both cried non stop, she heard us crying through the wall).
It takes a village to raise a child sometimes and you my darling, have had the best of the best: parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, cousins, aunts, friends of mine that became your friends (Hi Cat in Canada!), teachers, professors, coffee roasters, knitters, the fellas at the Men’s Extension. They all love you. They have all had a chance to give a piece of themselves to you, in order to help you understand the way of the world.
I’ve watched, in total awe, when you started to play the drums at four years old. Then the guitar. The bass. You totally get that from your Dad by the way. I can’t play an instrument to save my life. You get the maths from Bill. You get the heart on your sleeve from me. You are a true renaissance man.
Every birthday, I think of all these amazing adventures we’ve had.
Now, I’m thinking of all the amazing adventures that await you in life.
In the morning, you’ll be 18.
You can buy lotto tickets, join the military, move out, get married (please wait), get a tattoo (few more days), travel the world, go to college, or as your Dad mentioned, go to prison (PLEASE DO NOT) etc, etc, you know, you know. I’m just so happy to be your mother and watch these adventures unfold for you. Even the crappy ones- because those are the important adventures. They teach you things. Test your patience. Strengthen who you are as an individual. Embrace those crappy adventures, try to take a breath and be present when they happen- there are lessons to be learned from them (you can thank me later).
Being your Mother has been, to be quite honest, phenomenal.
And here I am, typing out this letter to you, just a few hours short of your 18th birthday.
How did that happen? How are you 18 already? You should be like seven. Or at least ten. Papa was right when he said it happens so fast. I’ve loved teaching you how to navigate through life. Watching your AH-HA moments. Giving you little secrets about what the hell girls are actually thinking. Seeing concerts with you (TMP! Helmet! Soundgarden! RUSH!) Comforting you in times of grief. In times of joy.
I will always have your back. I will always be here for you, as will Bill (even if you move to Minnesota or Murfreesboro). You are the greatest person to have ever graced my life and I am forever thankful to have been given the opportunity to share my days with you. Nothing, nothing, has brought me greater joy.
It’s been a solid 18 years.
As I’ve said to you since you were tiny,
I love you more than bread,
PS: Robin wings.