It was eighteen years ago today that I became a parent; a mother. A first baby changes things. It changes everything. From one to two to three. A little early, a little small, but a perfect baby with all the pieces that babies are supposed to come with. Things did not go as the textbooks and classes promised but the one thing they did promise is that each birth is different even as it’s all the same, and it is. Twelve days in the hospital, a feeding tube, a phenomenal rash, jaundice, but once we went home, it was baby, baby, baby, all the time, baby.
He was small but grew quickly. He ate everything including onions and broccoli, Chinese and Indian food. He tried anything you gave him. He sat up, he crawled, he walked, he ran. He never wore shoes but he always wore socks. His favorite color had always been red, and he loved fire trucks. He dressed as a firefighter for Halloween at least three times. On days not Halloween, he still dressed like a firefighter; all the time.
He used my father’s desk, and when he graduates from high school he’ll get my father’s ring. Video games and iPods, Skype with friends, theatre and stage crew.
In Jewish culture which is how I (and he) grew up, the two letters that form the word Chai translates to life. L’chaim. Chai is also 18. So this is also his Chai birthday.
Today he turns eighteen. We celebrated yesterday because today…. what’s he doing today? He’s about an hour or so away, doing trench training with the fire department. He starts college in five months to study fire and paramedicine service. He drives, a little too fast for my comfort and he’s planning a trip to see his friend away at college, also out of my comfort.
While he’s not a baby, he’s still my baby.