Here we are on the ferry going towards Manhattan. Destination: The Beacon Theater for Alyssa’s college orientation. It totally seems like yesterday that this stubborn, adorable 4 year old was crying for me to not leave her at pre k. She’s just as stubborn today complaining that she didn’t want to go to this orientation. I just listen there’s nothing I can say. She’s so beautiful, my daughter. And her future is so bright. Today’s orientation is just the beginning of an awesome, adventurous college education. She’s commuting from home this semester with plans to transfer to a different fashion college after this first semester. Alyssa has plans to dorm at the next college. I hope she does get to dorm. I don’t want her to leave home but I do want what she wants to make her happy.
So we begin another journey together but I’m not dropping her off I get to walk along side her for a day. And Alyssa lets me visit the world of a typical family seeing their child off to college.
It’s summer so it’s time for yet another one of my kids’ birthdays. The birthdays start in April with Lelly and peak in July (Thomas, Tommy and Alyssa) and end in August with Samantha. Samantha’s due date was July 31st with her arrival being August 1st. When I was pregnant with Samantha and she didn’t arrive on the 31st, my sister said she wanted her own birthday month.
I won’t say I can’t believe Samantha is 10. I do believe it. Being the youngest of all my children she’s probably the one I feel most present in her life. My first 3 children were closer in age to each other and with the added stress of undiagnosed Thomas some things are a blur with the older kids. Thankfully they have great memories and love to share things that happened when they were younger. Things that I seriously don’t remember. Not bad memories, just the opposite; happy times or silly things they did and my reaction. I do wonder if it’s the meds or the stress of the past that screws with my memory.
So she’s 10. Twelve years ago I was getting over 2 miscarriages and wondering if I’d ever have another baby. God was so good. The biblical meaning of the name Samuel is “God has heard” so it was only fitting that I named her Samantha. God did hear me and answered yes. When I learned we were having another girl I immediately thought, “no big deal we already have experience with Alyssa and Lelly”. Ha! Samantha is not like her sisters at all. She definitely walks to the beat of her own drummer preferring video games to dolls and challenging her teachers and authority figures. Things her sisters would have no part in when they were her age. Samantha was in the principals office when she was in pre-k! Oh my gosh I wanted to die. What the heck?? Yes Samantha is definitely her own person.
I remember after I gave birth, Thomas was 10 years old. My bff said, “OMG when Samantha is 10, Thomas will be 20!” That seemed like eons ago. And here we are. Thomas is 20. It’s amazing how fast and excruciatingly slow time can pass all at the same time. I hope to be present for the next 10 years not just for Samantha but for all my kids. They are all amazing people.
And just like that today my boy turns 20. What’s sweet is that I have friends who remember me pregnant and remember my son when he was born. My husband and I have a good friend who is a big guy, we’re talking 6’3″ approximately and he’s no skinny drink of water. When we brought Thomas home from the hospital and Thomas would sit in that bouncy chair, our friend would pick up the whole chair with Thomas in it to see him. I’m guessing he wasn’t comfortable holding a small baby. It was so funny and the memory still makes me smile.
And just like that my son was this happy, smiley baby. I love to think back and remember what he was like before the proverbial crap hit the fan. Before all the doctors and specialists, trips to Manhattan, MRI, CAT scan…When Thomas and Tommy and I were our own little family. Optimistic and happy and close and together. Because Thomas was such a good baby we took him everywhere. I remember my inlaws were dying to babysit but I wouldn’t leave him, I never felt I had to. Thomas made me grow up. He made me a mom and me made me an advocate. He made me who I am today.
And just like that my son grew up. He went from baby to toddler to little boy, and so on. He wasn’t an easy child to parent but we did the best we could with what we knew. Tommy and I weren’t perfect I’ll never say we were.
And just like that Thomas is 20. He’s still easy going in his own way and when he smiles he makes you feel like a million bucks. He’s still teaching me ways to grow and I’m still learning.
My son turns 20 in a couple of days. That freaks me out a bit. It means that 20 years ago he made me a mom for the very first time. An important milestone. He was the very first baby I ever took care of without waiting for their own mom to come home; *I* was the mom. No instruction manual…no giving him back. He was mine, all mine. I remember freaking out when Thomas was about a week old or so. Tommy and I were on our way to take Thomas to see Tommy’s grandmother. I was crying and crying that maybe we had Thomas too soon, maybe we made a mistake. Tommy calmly said that it was too late for that don’t you think? Thomas was here. I think I felt very alone when I said that. Tommy made me feel that he was with me that we were in this together and I calmed down.
20 years ago we didn’t have cell phones like we had now. I had gotten Tommy a beeper when I was pregnant with Thomas. I was working as a nurse and Tommy was working at a family owned heating and air conditioning company and out on the road constantly. So he wasn’t easy to get a hold of in an emergency. I had one such “emergency” when I was about 7ish months pregnant. I had pains like right at the top of my uterus/stomach. Since I worked at the hospital I was planning to give birth at the nurse manager sent me right down to Labor and Delivery unit. It was determined that I had “uterine irritability” and they gave me a some IV fluids and sent me home. Tommy was out with friends and I was beeping him “911” with the hospital’s phone number. He came right away. By the time they sent me home it was 3 am (I worked the over night shift). We went to the bagel store, got some freshly made bagels, went home, made bacon and then went to bed. Funny how you remember somethings to the exact detail.
I gave birth in the hospital and Thomas was perfect, I remember he had these perfect pursed lips and I couldn’t help but kiss them. I had the typical newborn pictures taken while in the hospital. I remember within just a couple of days he didn’t look anything like those pictures. My mother was a huge help. Tommy stayed home a week with me and then went back to work. My mother would come over and help me with breastfeeding (she is a certified Lactation Consultant), fold my laundry, go for walks with me and Thomas in the carriage. I don’t know what I would have done without her. None of my friends had kids/babies. I was one of the youngest nurses on my unit so all my friends at work had older kids, I wasn’t friendly with anyone who had a baby. I was home from work for 4 months. I don’t know what I would have done without my mother and her constant reassuring presence. My dad told me I no longer had an identity I was now “Thomas’ mom” and he was right. To this day when I call Thomas’ school I say this is “Thomas’ mom” and they all know who I am.
20 years. It did go fast.