Monday, January 23, 2017


A while back, I asked Sullivan what he was going to turn on his next birthday and he said, "Left. I'm going to turn left."

I tried to explain the whole birthday thing to him, like, "No, you're going to turn three. Now, you are two, but on January 21, you will have been hanging out with us for three years, so you will be three."

A few weeks later, we were at my friend Sheila's place and she asked him what he was turning on his next birthday. He looked at me for a minute with deep concentration and then said to her, ", North, I sink?"

So I suck at explaining stuff. But! Weird! This weekend, he turned three, whether he knew it or not.

It was a full weekend, with the funeral and the music festival (I'll tell you about that later), but my parents came into town and stayed with us and we had a little family birthday party for him. I even baked a birthday cake! It was one of those things I'd never done before but probably wouldn't whip out in a game of Never Have I Ever. It was a guitar cake, too. Pat me on the back and tell me I'm special. (Full disclosure: my mom helped.)

Now the house is quiet--Sullivan's napping and the company's gone home and I'm sitting in my office eating leftover cake and having my own little birthday celebration. I do this every year: I sit and think about my son, about the day he came to join us, and marvel at the wonder that is bones getting bigger and skin stretching over them and an entire language being learned by someone who, I swear, just yesterday couldn't even hold his own head up. A personality being revealed. Preferences and ideas forming--and relationships, too. All of it happening so silently and miraculously and casually. 

I read his birth story, the one I wrote a couple of weeks after the fact. I feel thankful that I wrote it down, and also thankful that I left the gory parts out and focused on the feelings and what song was playing on the radio, because, frankly, there are parts of that day I don't want to remember. And sure enough, those bits of useless information are fading to the back, blurry, while the parts that I love remain in focus: Wild Country by Wake Owl, Barclay holding my head in the stairwell of the hospital, the moment I met Sullivan, and the way his face appeared on the backs of my eyelids every time I shut my eyes. What a perfect, perfect day.

(It's funny how you can shape your own past by the way you tell about it, hey?) 

Every year that goes by, the birth story becomes more special to me because now I know the baby we were meeting that day. Back then he was a dream, unfamiliar and a little bit scary. Now he's the hilarious kid who fills my house with loud music, who explores cities with me and eats strawberries on the kitchen floor with me, who repeats the things I say and mimics my actions, who helps me get excited about things that had become stale, who brings out a side of Barclay that I absolutely love and wouldn't have gotten to see otherwise, who makes me have to slow down sometimes and speed up sometimes, who can make me laugh louder than anyone and who can absolutely melt my heart just by looking at me. 

The privilege and blessing of being his mom isn't lost on me.

(The photo of me and Sully by the lake was taken by Vivien Francombe and you can see more of her pictures by clicking on it.)