Happy Constitution Day

You did know that the Constitution was signed on September 17th, didn’t you?

It’s also Jake’s 13th birthday.  He wasn’t supposed to arrive on this day.  I had other plans.  You see, on September 17th, 1999, I was only 32.5 weeks pregnant and was supposed to be having a baby shower.  Honestly though, nothing had gone according to plan up to that point, (nor has it since), so I can’t say that it was all that surprising.  And in retrospect, it was a perfect day for Jake, lover of all things history, to come into the world.

I really wasn’t going to post anything today, as I got the sap out in Friday’s entry.  And, I think it’s probably clear how much I adore my son since I talk about him every so often.  But, then my friends started wishing him a “Happy Birthday” on Facebook and one pointed out that this is the anniversary of me becoming and mommy….and another thanked him for being born so that she and I could be friends.  And, then I read the list of people that were “liking” and commenting and realized that so many of them have come into my life because I had a baby on September 17th, 1999.  This list of people, many of whom were strangers 14 years ago, are now people I cannot imagine my life without.  Some of them I met on the internet,  in virtual “playgroups”, some of them are parents of his friends who have become some of my closest friends, some of them are his teachers and mentors and pastors.  Some are even relatively new friends who have still had a major impact on his life.  Each one has played a vital role in his life — and mine.

And then there are the people who were there before he was born.  The people who knew us before we ever decided to be parents.  The people who loved us and helped make us the people we were on September 17, 1999 when this new little life came into the world.  They are the people who took time on their lunch hours to bring me food and visit me as I endured weeks of bed-rest.  And, the real saints who spent their vacations visiting me and keeping me company during that time.  They helped us move into a new house in August…in Phoenix.  They filled our hospital room with so many flowers after Jake was born that we began to give them to other new mommies in the pod.  They welcomed him and have loved him and cherished him almost as much as we do.

And then there are people who aren’t here anymore.  Relatives who never even got to meet him, but who I see everyday in his face.  Others who did get to spend some time with him, but who only live on in stories that he loves to hear about them.  And Julie.  His auntie, not by blood, but certainly by love…who was the first non-relative to visit us in the hospital and who I wish so badly could have been here to teach him all the really fun stuff.  She would have loved his sense of humor.

Indeed, it takes a village to raise a child.  I’m grateful beyond words for our village.  I know that you know who you are, if you are reading this.  Thank you for being there for us as parents…and for him…for loving him and encouraging him and for being part of his story so far.  You’ve made a difference in his life.  As I told another friend of mine today….he’s your kiddo, too.   And, I’m glad because there’s no way we could have done this without you.

“I had such a good birthday, I’m going to have wrinkles from smiling so much.”

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Teenage Dream

My son turns 13 on Monday.  In and of itself, this is unreal to me.  First of all, I still think I’m 28, so I am not old enough to have a 13 year old.  Secondly, my pregnancy (and the pregnancies that came before him) and the first year of his life were scary.  The fact that he had a first birthday was a miracle, so a 13th birthday is…well, a miracle.

My husband is a great dad.  He doesn’t always know it though.  He has no memory of actually living in the same house with his own father.  That is his story, but I say that to illustrate a point and that is that he didn’t always have a role model to learn from.  And, as all parents know, kids don’t come with instructions.  We quickly learned to hate parenting books (oh, now there’s an idea for a blog post) and we’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way.  Fortunately, I don’t think they have caused any real permanent damage.
Anyway, despite any insecurities my husband has about fatherhood, I am here to tell you that he is amazing.  And, here’s how I know:  we have a great kid.

Last night, we had Back to School night at Jake’s middle school.  One of the teachers asked us to write down one thing about our child that makes us smile.  Lloyd wrote about the joy that Jake displays on a regular basis.  He’s a joyful kid with a great attitude.  He loves life.  And, it’s true — he does.  People comment all the time about his infectious smile. Then this morning, somebody in my Facebook feed posted this quote:

Children learn to smile from their parents.

~Shinichi Suzuki

Now, I know that I can’t take credit for most of the awesome personality traits that my son has.  But, as I thought about that quote…I thought, “YES!  We can take some credit for that one!”.  We have always tried to maintain a happy household (even when there wasn’t a lot to smile about).  And, it shows in our son’s face.  If you had asked me before he was born what one trait I would want my child to have, I would have said that I wanted him to be happy.

Back to my husband and what a great dad he is.  He’s always made sure to carve out special one-on-one time to spend with Jake.  When we lived in Olympia, they would spend Saturday mornings going to Twister Donuts and then to the library.  Here in Maryland, they don’t have a regular routine, but they still regularly spend time together.  Jake will even speak up when he’s craving some Dad/Son time.  It can be anything from going to a Nationals game together to just hanging out at Game Stop. Despite all that, he’s been wanting to take Jake on a road trip….just the guys…for a while.

A few weeks ago, I realized that Jake’s birthday falls on Rosh Hashanah, which in Montgomery County is a school holiday.  Then, I heard Lloyd and Jake talking about wanting to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame someday…maybe when Ken Griffey Jr. is eligible for induction.  So I told Lloyd that he should take Jake there for his birthday weekend.  Just the two of them.

This afternoon, Lloyd picked Jake up early from school and told him they were headed to Cooperstown.  Jake was crying tears of happiness when he called me.  I’m not even going and I’m so excited for them that it gives me butterflies in my stomach.  Yes, I wish I was going, but I’m glad they are going together.  And, they’ll take lots of pictures and tell me all about it, but it will be something that only they share.  It’s something neither one of them will ever forget.  And, it is the perfect prologue to this new chapter in the Story of Us.

I am so proud of the kid that Jake is and the man that he is becoming.  And, I’m eternally grateful for Lloyd who is his greatest role model.  If Jake is half the man that his father is, he will be amazing.

Round 2 of the birthday celebration will be watching the Dodgers play the Nationals on Tuesday — and yes, I get to go to that!  🙂  Lloyd’s a lifelong Dodger fan, so it’s a bit of a rivalry in our house, but he also just bought Nationals season tickets, so we forgive him.

Kids these days….

I used to be the youngest person in the room.  Always.  It just sort of worked out that way.  I didn’t mind it except I’ve always looked much younger than I actually am, so I would occasionally battle people for treating me like I was dumb just because I’m young.  Since there is absolutely no reason to ever try and make yourself look older, the best way to combat that is to just prove that you are smart.

Lately though, I’m not the youngest person in the room.  I’m not the oldest either, but DC is especially young demographically. I still look much younger than I actually am, so the gasps when people find out that I’m in my 40’s can actually be somewhat complimentary.  In a back-handed sort of way.  I really am fine with being in my 40’s.  I enjoyed my 20’s, but I wouldn’t go back.  A) I don’t want to be that poor again and B) I am much wiser now that I was then and while ignorance is bliss, I’ve done my time there.  My 30’s were hard for a lot of different reasons.  They actually helped provide me with the life experience that has given me the different world view that I have now.  And, as much as I love my son, I don’t want to have a 4 year old again.  My son will be 13 in a few days and while I know that there will be challenges that we’ll face in this new chapter of our lives, he is such a good kid and we have a lot of fun.  And, as he gets older, my husband and I have been able to spend more couple time together again.  In fact, this summer the boy- child spent a week at sleep away camp in another state and then went to his grandparents house for 3 weeks.  We got a little glimpse of what our life will be like as empty-nesters and it’s safe to say that we are going to be just fine. I even stopped threatening to move to where ever he goes to college.  And, now that he has his sights set on Syracuse, I can guarantee I won’t be moving there.  Too cold. (If he changes his mind and ends up in Florida, he might still have a problem).

I digress, but the point is that I don’t mind getting older.  I still can’t help but shake my head when I realize how far down I have to scroll on the drop down menu to select 1971 when inputting my birthday into a computerized field.  And, when the Beloit College releases their “College Freshmen Mindset List” (this year most were born in 1994, which means they were never alive at the same time as Kurt Cobain) , I realize that even though I feel young and act young, I just see the world differently.

For instance, when Bill Clinton spoke at the DNC last week, most of the people in my office did not even remember him being president.  He’s always been an elder statesman to them.  They looked horrified when I told them that Bill Clinton was the first president I ever voted for.  To be fair, it’s not just the fact that it was 1992 that they found horrifying.  And, yesterday, the television in my office was tuned into the replays of the newscasts from 9/11.  When I asked if we could turn it down, they didn’t understand why it was bothering me.  I mean no disrespect, but I wish we could remember 9/11 without re-living it in that way.  For them, watching the newscasts is more of a history lesson.  For me, it is like watching a nightmare. That day is seared into my DNA.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  I remember the weather.  I remember how quiet and still it was in LA with no planes flying and very little traffic on the road. I remember having to turn off the TV even then and go outside to escape the horror of it all.  I realized that most of them were about my son’s age when it happened, so it probably did not change them in the same way it changed me.  It changed me instantly.  For them, it changed the world they would grow up in.  My son, who was just days away from turning 2, would never know a world in which 9/11 had not happened.

I recall sitting in my friend’s dorm-room in 1989, watching the television coverage of the Berlin wall coming down and knowing that this was going to change the world — and the world view of future generations.  The people in my office have never known a world in which there was a Berlin wall anywhere but in a museum.

These are the things that shape generations.   They are the things that make us who we are.

And, then there are the things that transcend generations.  Music is the greatest example.  I was with my 18 year old cousin a couple of weeks ago.  He’d gone to a used music store and came home with Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”.  Honestly, I think buying that album has become a right of passage.  I was in 5th grade when my dad took me to my first concert — Jimmy Buffett.  I can tell you that a long line of Parrotheads was born that night as I was an instant fan and now, so is my son.  When I was pregnant with Jake, we took my dad to see Bob Dylan and Paul Simon in concert.  Sitting there with my dad, enjoying the music with Jake dancing around in my belly is one of my favorite memories.  So today, when I got the email with a pre-sale passcode for the Bob Dylan/Mark Knopfler concert, I wondered to myself if my husband and I should take Jake to see it.

While I was considering buying tickets, I also wondered aloud if this might be a concert that would have good re-sale value.  My co-worker turned and looked at me with a puzzled look. I thought he was contemplating the question itself.

Instead, he said, “I thought Bob Dylan was dead”.

A few minutes later, I was asked if I was interested in going on a road trip to an Auburn football game in November.  Now, it was my turn to be puzzled.  As one of the “old folks” in the office, I don’t even get invited to office happy hours.  This probably has more to do with the fact that I have rules about drinking with co-workers (don’t do it).  I thought that they probably wanted a designated driver.  No.  That wasn’t it at all.  Turns out they need a driver, but it’s because they want to rent an RV.  And, nobody is 25 yet.

Reason C for not wanting to go back to my 20’s:  Needing a chaperone.