Today he turns 30. The child who made me a mother.
4:50 a.m. was the defining moment. Just like that, I went from Gail to Kyle’s mom. Later I would be Alex’s mom and Drew’s mom. But this date, hour and minute was my crowning. No matter the titles I earned during my professional career, this is the only one that makes my heart sing.
262,800 hours of on-the-job training, yet I am no expert. It’s impossible. Just when I thought I had it down, the game changed. And it hasn’t stopped changing.
A thirtieth birthday warrants a trip to the attic to sort through the baby books and memory box. Among the letters to Santa, report cards, early art projects, achievement ribbons and class photos, there are pages of stories. A journal of things I didn’t want to forget. Minutiae, mostly.
I wanted to remember how you always began sentences with, “I have a good idea.” And “probably” was your favorite response to questions. You were the ultimate polite kid, always saying “thank you” when your friends followed your commands in Simon Says. One night I had told you that I was going out for the evening and that I would give you a goodnight kiss when I came back. “Okay,” said your three-year-old self to his very pregnant mother. “When I fall sleep, I’ll be turned the right way so you won’t have to bend.” And you were.
Happy Birthday to the child who was born to serve. Who looked after your brothers beyond all rationale expectation, earning the not-always-complimentary moniker of “third parent.” There was the time you went to the New Jersey Shore with a friend’s family and selflessly spent your allowance on souvenirs for your brothers, who weren’t lucky enough to spend the day at the beach. And the time we took the train from New Jersey to Chicago, and you patiently spent hours teaching your youngest brother how to tie his shoe laces. And the time …
Neighborhood baby-sitter, life guard, volunteer firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician. Your roles and responsibilities changed as you grew beyond the world of family and friends and into the community, but your sense of purpose never wavered.
“Would you be upset if I didn’t go to my college graduation ceremony?” asked your teenaged self, who had already passed up senior year of high school for a bridging year at college. You went to Europe instead. Then in your 20s, after a few years of corporate life, you announced you were enrolling in police academy. You didn’t skip that graduation.
Happy Birthday to the man, soon to be a husband, who kick-started my motherhood clock, knocking me head-over-heels into the boundary-less infinity that is love.
May all your dreams come true.