Thirty-three. How about that. Well, that went fast. (Ok, maybe not really.)
But here we are, with you being all grown up. Like really all grown up. And me, well, you know, it’s a hit or miss thing depending on the day. And yet you are still entertained by me, so that’s good.
Last week when you told me under no circumstances could I have a cup of coffee at 5PM, someone asked when you became my parent. I had to think about it, but then I said, “Oh, about 5 years ago”.
Somewhere around then the roles shifted ever so slightly. You started stepping in when you saw me circling the drain. Or maybe I thought it was ok to let you witness that dance. No, I don’t really think you are the parent, I still have plenty of parenting left to do. But I do trust your judgement probably more than anyone else. And with the utmost of grace, you have pivoted into a role of family authority. The handler. The fixer. The plan maker. All with very little effort and always with the joy and confidence in which you do most things.
Sure, you will still utter an ‘it’s not fair’ or ‘its fine’ now and then. Who doesn’t? But the way in which you have grown into this force to reckon with, while still being there for all who need you, is so much fun to witness.
You take friendship very seriously. That is evident by your side hustle as wedding officiant. You are committed to having a good time with equal gusto. You plan the adventures and never leave out a detail.
But of all your wonderful qualities – and there are so very many – the one that gets me the most is your commitment to family. Knowing you are not only always there, but Always There, is the greatest comfort in life. I could not be any more proud, and certainly any more excited, about watching you grow this family. The role of mom is going to come very natural to you, of that I am sure. Always know that I am on your shoulder, at your back and only a phone call or quick drive away when you need me. Just like Gram was for me. And believe me, you’ve got this, even when you think you don’t.
Happy three three, my sweet girl. May you always be surrounded by love. And keep radiating it back into the universe.
Happy birthday to my girl’s boy. Son #2. The calm in every storm.
Cor, It is hard to remember a time when you were not a part of my family. You have been with us through it all. And I could never fully express how grateful I am to have you there with your quiet strength and insightful perspective. You are my go to guy in an emergency.
Thirty to thirty-one has been one crazy ride. Never once did I see you falter. When things got scarier, you became more steadfast in your conviction to keeping it cool. Nothing like a pandemic to test the true colors of a man. (a little ironic, for a colorblind guy, huh?) When decisions had to be made, you brought them to the families with undying grace and respect. You always consider everyone’s feelings before making a move. And somehow, you manage to do it all with a smile on your face and a no big deal attitude.
When you marry someone you marry their family. That is not always easy to navigate. But we are so very fortunate that we took it one step further and married both our families into one. I could not imagine living without that. My gratitude is without measure.
For 31 I wish for you all that you have missed. All that you deserve. Music. Food. Festivals. Travel. Golf. And a fully opened NYC!
Can’t wait to see what this year has in store for you. Thanks for always taking us along for your ride.
32… we have now entered the time when I am no longer twice your age. Does this make me younger? Yeh, I know, still a geezer.
But there is a big shift. I thought about this last night as we were leaving for an outdoor show. Your text: “What are you wearing? It is going to get cold.” At that moment I thought, is she asking me this as my child to see what she should wear, or was she being parental and making sure I would be dressed properly?
Maybe a little of both?
Parenting is a lifetime endeavor. For 32 years I wake every morning with my heart full knowing you are there. Wherever there is. The beauty of this stage is knowing that you have my back. Always.
How cool is that?
We have come a long way from your last birthday (how nuts was THAT day?). The world has shifted, but you remain my constant. Of the all the gifts that we have been given through this insanity, the strength of our bond has been one of the greatest of all.
You inherited my lens. I love that more than you can ever know. But I watch how you make it your own. Your humor is just a little sharper. Your patience is greater. Your love of the offbeat is a little more sophisticated. You show up and when you do you make everything so much more fun. I love watching you kick ass, have fun and make sure that all your people are taken care of.
Thank you for being my Technicolor when the world starts to become a little too gray. For making me remember why becoming a parent was the most important decision I ever made. And for always making sure I know how loved I am, every single day.
To the moon and back, Petunes. May 32 be an easier ride than 31.
Thirty. T-H-I-R-T-Y. 3-0! (Indulge me, I don’t do this very often anymore.)
How can that be? I was (almost) 30 when I had you! Which means you have been hanging around for almost half my life! From here on in I will have lived in a Janaworld longer than a Janaless one.
Thank goodness. For I could not imagine a day without you in my life. That smile. That laugh. That eye roll. The way you only have to give me a look across the room that says it all. You ground me. And parent me back. Tricky. And yet you still lean when you need to. And I love that just as much.
When I set out to start a family, I never thought about this part very much. Who does? You think babies and toddlers and teens. But the part about growing full humans who become the people you most want to be with? I doubt that crosses the mind of many young parents.
So here we are. And I marvel everyday at your courage. Your strength. Your persistence. Your sense … way more sense than I ever had at your age. (Or maybe even now, for that matter.) You know your mind and you hold fast to what you believe in. That is a gift. Don’t ever doubt your gut, we both know it is the wisest voice of all.
Mothers and daughters. That can be one crazy roller coaster. But for us, it is like we are the eye of the hurricane. We hold tight in the middle of all the chaos, and step out into it together when we want to have some fun. Hold tight to that feeling … the one where you take the risks but keep a cool head when the unexpected happens. That is where all the good stuff happens.
Here’s to the next decade. May you continue to know how to pivot with grace. May your dreams come true. And when they don’t, know I will always be right here to catch you when you fall.
LU2 Petunes. More than life itself. Happy Birthday.
I’ve been writing these birthday posts for an awfully long time. This one is extra special as you are now the age I was when I became pregnant with you. No, this is not a hint. I am fully aware you are not even prepared to have a fish. And that is just fine with me. I am OK with you keeping your eye on your own yoga mat.
This has been quite a year for you. Getting married… in between four Nor’easters! Your grandmother would have said that was good luck. (Then again, she told your dad that when a bird pooped on him 2 days before our wedding). All those snowstorms were nothing compared to everything that we have navigated surrounding your wedding. But with all the life challenges we faced, you stood in the center of the hurricane and kept your cool. Your grace and joy in the process was contagious.
I sit back on the other side of this year and think, sure the wedding was a blast. And it was everything you wanted it to be. But it was the moments planning it together that truly mattered. I got to watch how you move in the world. How you conduct yourself. How people both respect you and want to be around you. You make all those that love you the best version of themselves.
Me included. Big time. We have begun the shift of parenting where you teach me. And remind me what is most important in life (not to mention how you rock a google doc and always make the dinner reservations).
There are pivotal moments for a mom where she has to learn to let go, but still strike the balance of holding on for dear life. I thank you for being just the right amount of independent while still having the humility to ask for guidance.
I love us, Petunes. More than I can ever say. Thanks for being the daughter I know I can count on no matter what.
Oh, and Happy Birthday! May this year be as spectacular as the last.
(this post is dedicated to a colleague who knows who she is and is just learning this dance)
Having made it to the other side of parenting, now hanging with the 2 best adults I know, I wanted to say thank you to both of them for tolerating this lunatic and still turning out great. Someone wise once told me, “your kids will be fine”. In the throws of working full time (and then some), caring for pets and parents, and trying to be a good human, I sometimes wonder how they survived.
But they did. In spite of me.
I thought this would be a good time to do another famous list and look back on the ways I messed up and they still turned out fine. And loved me anyway.
Anything involving the smoke alarm and our first dog who would shake from it.
Ironing the graduation gown and almost melting it.
Being the carpool mom that once in awhile forgot the other kid.
Backing up full force out of the driveway and hitting my brother’s car broadside… with a car full of teenage girls. (sorry Keith)
Singing in the morning when you just wanted to be left alone.
Locking us out of the house in a black out.
Losing the concert tickets in the jungle of my hard drive for a show I don’t remember but one that was REALLY important.
Surprise back surgery into a slip and fall geezer-like incident at the worst moment ever. (really sorry about this one, guys, I know how hard that was for you)
Initiating completely inappropriate family discussions that now that they look back are probably the best thing I ever did… nothing shocks them now.
Taking a while to figure out you did not want me to solve it, you just wanted to bitch.
Goes to show, no matter what we do, if we love them unconditionally, they just might do the same thing back.
Nope, no one in my house is graduating. But for some reason I found myself going back and reading all of the graduation posts that I had written for my kids. I guess it is that time of year. It all seems so long ago, and like yesterday at the same time.
I will tell you that here on the other side, we are all doing great and happy to have made it.
Here is a little roundup for those who are going through the graduation dance. Don’t worry, I promise, you will all be just fine.
You wake up one morning, a good 30 lbs over your normal weight (don’t judge), wash your hair, take off your jewelry and nail polish (your version of natural childbirth) and you walk into the hospital to have a baby.
That is pretty much how it went. A stubborn breech baby, Miss Jana preferred the less violent (for her, anyway) exit of a c-section.
You planned for just about everything… and nothing at all.
You did not plan for how amazing your life would become because she was in it. Or how your heart would both fill and break at a moment’s notice when her life took its swings. You counted fingers and toes and thought you were good to go.
And then one day you turn around and she turns 27! Today! And you look at the woman she has become and think, damn if I did anything right in this world it was her (and you too, Dan, but it’s not your birthday). Sure, we all gush about our kids, and love them unconditionally. But, as they age up the parenting piece is so very different. It’s a sidelines thing. A bite your tongue and hope and pray endeavor. And then they start to impart THEIR wisdom to YOU!
So, for your birthday, my sweet Petunia Blossom, I will share some of your wisdom:
In the history of mankind, no one has ever calmed down when you say ‘calm down’.
They now take credit cards in taxis, it’s not 1985. (in my defense I was pretty sick that day)
Sometimes you just have to smile and nod – and shut the hell up.
Repost is the best instagram regram app.
You don’t need to solve it, you just need to listen to me complain. I will solve it myself.
When you take pictures on your phone, you should always shut the sound off.
Don’t eat this [fill in the blank], it has too much salt.
Madewell has great gift items.
This is how you do a face swap video.
But most of all you taught me how to be silly and love life, even when it can be ‘annoying’. It seems you have been doing this your entire life.
Thanksgiving, like every holiday, starts off with the business of lists and recipes, shopping and cleaning and ends up where everything seems to, with the bittersweet memories of those we have lost.
“Umm… Ame, what is up with the ancient can of mandarin oranges and what do they have to do with your mom?”, you ask. Read on my friends. This one is just plain old freakish.
I spent a big chunk of the weekend reading expiration dates and tossing ancient items out of my pantry and fridge. It is really quite embarrassing, but frankly I suck at this piece of domesticity. I usually do it before the holiday visit from my nephew, the expiration date nazi, but sadly he will not be joining this year.
I digress. I had just finished making (not enough) cranberry sauce and was on the phone asking a friend about whether to use canned mandarin oranges in my fresh sauce. My argument in favor of this slimy little canned citrus was nostalgia. You guessed it, my mom always used them. I reached into the pantry and saw the condition of the can, realizing it had slipped through Saturday’s expiration sweep.
But then I saw something so startling that even the most stubborn skeptic could not deny.
As the word ‘Mom’ left my lips, this is what I saw.
Yeh, I know, crazy, right? (and yes I am aware that this can expired over 5 years ago)
So here’s the thing. This is no coincidence. Why the hell would DelMonte stamp MOM on the bottom of a can of (5+ year old) mandarin oranges?
Because, my friends, I really do believe they did not.
Here’s to you, Elaine, you cagey devil. And yes, I get it, I can’t possibly leave out the mandarin oranges.
“She lives on beneath everything I do. Her presence influenced who I was, and her absence influences who I am. Our lives are shaped as much by those who leave us as they are by those who stay.”
– Hope Edelman from Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss
Many of you have watched her grow up here; at least the parts of her we like to share. Jana not only made me a mom for the first time, she made me a mom blogger with my very first post about her High School graduation. Then on to her college graduation where I visited a different kind of change… getting her back.
Fast forward to today. Today is Jana’s last day at a job she has grown to love way beyond being a place of employment. God’s Love We Deliver has been a calling. The place where someone a little too young for the job proved she was not. Where, like everyone who works and volunteers there, she was embraced for who she is and appreciated way more than she could fathom. Until she made the tough decision to take the next step in her career.
The photo above is today’s GLWD Facebook post. She came into the office at 6AM (did I mention she starts work at 6AM?!) to find the walls covered with photos of her good times spent there. I awoke to a text with a video of the scene. We were both quite taken with this.
The emotions surrounding raising a child are often overwhelming. Equal parts pride and melancholy, the growing of a human is a roller coaster, indeed. (it’s all good, we both LOVE roller coasters). All a parent can hope for in the lives of their children is that they can find themselves, make a solid contribution and be valued. A huge thank you to the God’s Love We Deliver family, that has embraced, not only our girl, but our entire family. You have left a mark on all of us.
Good luck, my sweet Jana. As one door closes… blah blah blah. None of this makes today any easier. Love you to the moon and back. We could not be any prouder of you.