The Curse of September 1st

September 1st is a hugely significant date for me. It is the date of my son’s birth. So while I feel like this should be a joyous and celebratory day, it has been overshadowed with unsettling events since 2009.

September 1st, 2009: The day my son was born. Also the day I had an extremely difficult labor experience resulting in an emergency c-section and a two and a half hour separation from my son after birth. Due to my exhaustion and an almost overdose of medication by the hospital staff, I do not remember meeting my son.

September 1st, 2010: My son’s first birthday. Though we were able to have a celebratory day with family, it was also extremely emotional for me since it was the anniversary of the difficult day he was born. The day of his party was also our very first trip to the ER with him and his first diagnosis of croup.

September 1st, 2011: My son’s second birthday. We had his party in late August, and the day of his party was wonderful. But on the day of his actual second birthday, we were in our home with no power and received an IRS audit and an $11,000 bill for a surgery my son had that insurance was refusing to cover.

September 1st, 2012: My son’s third birthday. This year, we held his party on his actual birthday at our home. And the curse might have been broken! The party was adorable, my son had fun with his friends, and after the party we enjoyed a relaxing day at home visiting with family.

He did wake up on September 2nd, 2012  with a 101 degree fever, though…

Maybe the September 1st curse will be broken in 2013?

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The Significance of a Yellow Birthday Party

Sometime in April or May, my son started asking me for a “yellow birthday party.” Initially, this kind of intimidated me. I wasn’t exactly sure what a yellow birthday party was. So I asked him what he would like at his yellow birthday party.

“Um, ye-whoa cake and ye-whoa cupcakes and ye-whoa candles, and ye-whoa baboons.”

With these instructions in mind, I did what any one would do in this time of creative crisis; I searched Pinterest. And then I got excited because people have actually thrown yellow parties before and they were adorable! So I gathered all of these ideas together and made my own Pinterest Board: Noah’s 3rd Birthday Inspiration Board.

And then, I got SUPER excited because think of all the yellow food! Bananas, pineapple, cheese, Goldfish crackers, and lemonade. And then I got even MORE super excited because those are all perfect toddler foods! My son has come up with the BEST toddler themed birthday party ever!

So I made my Pinterest inspiration board and typed up a Word Document listing all needed party supplies, a guest list, food, and decorations. In May. (If you are trying to decide which part of that to make fun of; the part where I actually devoted a Word Document to my son’s party or the part where I did that in May, go ahead and know my family made fun of me for both.)

My son is so excited about this party. He has been telling people for months that he is having a “ye-whoa birthday party in Sep-ember.” And I have been planning the yellow birthday party in September since May.

For months, my son and I have slowly been gathering yellow things when we see them at the store, collecting them all carefully in the guest room closet. Throughout the summer I have slowly bought out most of the yellow things in the Richmond area. It’s like when you are pregnant and all of a sudden you notice all of the pregnant bellies and babies around you. But this time, I notice all things yellow.

I have also been preparing the house with diligent cleaning and yard work. Last week I re-organized the master closet, the linen closet, the guest bathroom closet, and thoroughly cleaned the entire house. I arranged for people to come and power wash the deck, re-mulch the back yard, and spray for mosquitoes this week before the big day, September 1st.

And then last Wednesday, after a particularly long day at home with the toddler, I went to the grocery store by myself when my husband got home. It was as much for my own sanity as it was for our need of milk.

While I was there, I decided to go ahead and order the cupcakes and balloons.

And that was it. Those were the last items on my list. After months of planning, all of the steps are done. Now, we just have to wait and have the party. Which means that my son is turning three.

The reality of that hit me as I began my drive home from the store, and found myself sobbing at a red light. My tears continued to fall as I wiped them away and drove the familiar route from the grocery store to my house. My baby is turning three.

September 1st is hard for me. It is the anniversary of one of the worst days of my life; a difficult birth experience I still have not mustered the courage or words to share.

But it is also the birthday of my son, the center of my world, my sweet boy that has changed my life in so many amazing ways. And this year, my baby will be three.

It’s amazing to see him now in all his three-ness, and at the same time see him at all of his life stages; his newborn helplessness, his baby coos, his beginning words, his toddling steps, his ever expanding world view.

Is this what being a parent is always like? Having the ability to see not only the person before you but also the child that they grew from? Knowing them not only for who they are now, but for who they were and for who they have always been? Having a love for them that is so intense it sometimes threatens to overpower you?

September 1st seems to sneak up on me every year with an overwhelming surge of mixed emotions. An anniversary of a hardship blended with the birthday of my greatest gift. And this year, the emotional pondering of my mixed blessings of motherhood are wrapped up in the intricate details of an extensively planned yellow birthday party.

Ten Years

Ten years ago today, I graduated high school.

Ten years since I donned a slinky black dress under a red graduation robe. Ten years since I paraded down a football field in a cap and gown to achieve the milestone that is high school graduation.

I was excited and terrified. I was not ready to leave the comforts of a life I had always known but had grown uncomfortable there. I was ready to spread my wings but was too scared to jump out of the nest.

The world was too big for me to navigate but the town where I grew up had grown too small.

It’s been ten years since I was the girl with so much potential and so many dreams.

It’s been ten years since I was sure about who I was.

My 18-year-old self was smart, pretty, and talented. (And tiny. I only weighed 100 pounds when I graduated high school.) This girl was going to go to Broadway. With an all-A GPA after a course load of honors and AP classes, a music scholarship and a two page long list of various honors and accomplishments under her belt, this girl was going to be somebody. This girl was going to be the perfect mom to four children. She would always look pretty and have a clean house. Beside small teenage dramas, this girl’s childhood had been pretty idealistic and she expected nothing less as she leapt out into the world.

A lot happens in ten years.

This woman may still be smart, but no one really recognizes that now. This woman may still be pretty, but not in the head turning way she was at 18. The weight she’s gained over the past ten years and the way having a baby changed her body will never allow her reflection to be the same in the mirror.

This woman stopped trying to pursue her singing talent after life starting throwing her curve balls that she couldn’t get away from. This woman never went to Broadway. This woman experienced the loss of her father and depression. This woman excelled in college but became a teacher instead of a performer. This woman became a mother through a very difficult pregnancy and delivery, and struggled through another bout of foggy depression. This woman sometimes flounders just to hold it all together with one baby, and the thought of having another one terrifies her. This woman’s dreams of being extraordinary washed away over the past decade and this woman struggles with the fact that despite all of her potential of ten years ago, she really grew up to be quite ordinary.

The ten year highschool reunion will be held in August. I had a wonderful high school experience, but as I reflect on these past ten years, I can not convince myself to go. So much has changed since then. As I look back into my highschool past I realize how much of who I was is not who I am. Sometimes I grieve that. I am reluctant to go to the reunion because I feel that somehow I have failed; failed at becoming who I could have been.

In October, it will also be ten years since my dad died. Ten years in which my world shifted and my experiences grew and my understanding of life changed, because my life irreparably changed. I never figured out how to build a sand castle when part of my foundation washed away with the waves.

I once read a quote that said, “When something tragic happens in your youth, you tend to feel that age for the rest of your life.”  I have often felt this way. I feel like I spent the past decade kind of lost. I have made grown up decisions without feeling grown up. Time and life have moved forward without my permission and sometimes I feel like I am digging my feet in the sand and resisting with all my might, but no matter how hard I try, I am pulled into the future anyway.

I will turn 29 this fall and officially be in the last year of my twenties. And I’m oh so glad. I’m so ready not to be in this lost place anymore. I am so ready not to feel like I am still 18 holding on to dreams that will never come true. I am so ready not to spend the next ten years of my life in a blanket of fog, stuck in the middle of who I was and who I am. I am so ready to embrace myself as a woman.

Sometimes I miss the 18-year-old girl. Almost all of the time, I miss her dreams of grandeur. But as much as I may want to,  I will never be that girl again. I think it’s time to let her go. I think it’s time to stop holding on to her standards of beauty and dreams and perfection. I will never be a size zero again, or be famous, or look at the world through the innocence tinted glasses I wore at 18.

If you google my full maiden name, you get a lot of links. She was important. But she’s not here anymore.

If you google my name now, you will not find me. I am lost among laundry and dishes and toddler tantrums. I am buried under bouts of depression. As it turns out, I never turned into anything special.

It took me 18 years to become the person that had so much going for her before. It will take time to create myself again.

It’s not too late to start, is it?

A Small Milestone

My two-and-a-half year old this morning before school. Happy half birthday sweet boy.

My little boy is 30 months old today. Officially two-and-a-half. I do not know why, but this feels like a milestone. Just another solid step towards him growing up. Just another reminder of how he’s leaving the baby world and entering the child world.

Maybe it’s a milestone because it’s the first “half birthday.” Whenever I was asked his age, for the longest time, I would respond in terms of months. I never referred to him as “one and a half,” I always said 18 months. I used months right up until that 24th one, when I reluctantly switched my answer to “He’s two.”

And for the past six months he has been two. And he’s been throwing tantrums and potty training and learning and growing and he’s been two. But now he is two-and-a-half. And he’s doing better about the tantrums (most days) and he is already done potty training. And he’s still learning and growing but he’s so SMART and observant now. And he’s only two-and-a-half.

Maybe it’s a milestone because I still remember the words of advice from a mom on a playdate we had when he was just a baby; “Make sure to get pictures when he’s two-and-a-half. It will be the last time you will get a baby picture. By the time they are three, they have already turned into little boys.” We have a photography session scheduled for April.

Maybe it’s a milestone because every step in his life is also a step in mine. Now, not only is he two-and-a-half, but I am the mother of a two-and-half year old. I can see this doesn’t bode well for my emotional sanity as he continues to grow up.

Maybe it’s a milestone simply because it is a milestone. Not the most significant one, but one all the same. And milestones are important to notice. Even the small ones.