Thursday, November 25, 2010

No Thanksgiving Thursday

We have something more important than Thanksgiving to observe today.

There will be no turkey. No stuffing. No sweet potatoes or corn soufflé. Zero pumpkin pie.

Instead, we'll be having a meal from my mother's recipe stash: goulash, coleslaw, garlic bread and our friend Mama I's brownies.

I know what you're thinking. And no, we're not Communists.

We are celebrating something much, much more important than Thanksgiving, my friends.

The BoyRD's birthday.

Specifically, his EIGHTEENTH birthday.

Eighteen. Adult. (see: makes his own decisions like "I want goulash and coleslaw for my birthday)

Eighteen. My baby. (see: towers over me by an entire foot)

Eighteen. Kill me. ('Knife to the heart sounds about right.)

The child who can make my heart soar and break. Simultaneously.

The child who taught me what it means to love someone more than myself, and simply to love myself.

The boy whose wavelength is more often than not the only one perfectly attuned to my own.


Eighteen years and some months ago, I was surprised to discover that my decidedly directionless life now had marching orders.

It was, in a word, tumultuous. It was physically the worst thing I can still imagine. Emotionally, I was debrided daily.

When I discovered I was pregnant, his father and I were already broken up. Drama, and lots of it, exacerbated by youth and ignorance, ensued.

I was living with my mother. Before the child made his appearance, I would also live with my Dad and a family friend, then back again to Mom.

During that time, my body was subjected to tortures never expected. Hyperemesis for the duration of the pregnancy meant I couldn't go two hours without barfing. So much barfing, in fact, that I tore the lining of my throat repeatedly. Stretch marks from mid-thigh to armpits that itched so badly, I scratched until they bled. Raging girl-infections made appearances more weeks than they didn't. Physically, it was hell. And I was all of eighteen years old. I knew everything and nothing.

I heard about a family in Phoenix who wanted to adopt a baby. My parents and the RD's father all agreed that this was a good idea.

I met the perspective family. I spent time with them. They were lovely people. Heck, I wanted them to adopt ME. I told them okay, they could have him.

And then I just couldn't do it.

I spent Halloween weekend of 1992 on my grandmother's back porch just outside of Las Vegas. She kept bringing me iced tea and let me alternately sleep, pee and just sit ... always refilling my glass. And then, on the last day, she brought me a photo album I'd never seen. These were the generations I had never met. Those who had "come over". Great grandparents, great uncles, great-great aunts. All people. Real people.

Hour after hour I spent sitting in a chair looking out at Nanny's beautifully kept backyard, desperately straining to see into the future. As it turns out, I couldn't see a future without this child I carried.

I did what was, at the time, the hardest thing I had ever done. I told those beautiful, intelligent, wealthy people, "no".

I can still feel the pain in that woman's voice. I can still hear her pleading with me to come to my senses. I can still, eighteen years later, feel the carpet on my legs as I sank to the floor—my swollen, aching, miserable body quaking with guilt, fear and the most intense feeling of relief I'd ever felt.

I have never once regretted that decision—not for even a sliver of a nanosecond.

Sometimes now in the early morning when he's still sleeping, I crack open his bedroom door. I just want a moment of listening to him breath. I try to go back in time and remember when he used to sleep next to me, his tiny body curled into the curve of mine. I want to remember every instance he chose hanging out with me over doing anything else. I want to go back to the time we made eye contact and he smiled and laughed at his Mama for the very first time.

But those things don't come back. Instead, I watch him snoring and send up a silent prayer of thanks for this child.

I pray for wisdom for him, and then some for me.

I pray for patience for him, with a healthy dose for me.

I pray for compassion for him, everyone he comes in contact with, and remind myself of what that means.

I pray for joy.

For strength.

For perseverence.

'Funny how these things work. Deciding how to go about telling you all of this brings to the forefront all of the things I've learned because of him, from him, about him and about myself.

And here I was thinking I'm the one who gave him life. Silly me.

Son, I love you bigger than the sky AND the comet. Thank you for being mine. Thank you for being you.


Becky said...

I remember when this amazing young man came into the world! He was absolutely beautiful! I was so proud of you and so scared for you all at once. I remember how sick you were through the whole pregnancy and was pretty darn sure he would be an only child and absolutely did not blame you! You turned out an amazing young man mama! Happy Birthday Mike! I hope to one day meet the amazing man you have become!
Becky Dusho

Sarah McCurdy said...

This is such a beautiful, well-written story that very clearly comes straight from your soul. Thank you for sharing your inner thoughts and for letting us all learn about this part of your journey. Happy Birthday to Mike and a very happy day to you, Mama Laura. XOXO

Megan said...


Beautifully put. You are a hell of a writer.

Love, Megan

Crystal said...

Well, put. The part that isn't written here is how lucky he is to have YOU for his mama. Love ya.

Anonymous said...

If only every child could hear these words from one or both of their parents. What a blessing for your child to read both now and in the future.

Alissa Pesta said...

Love this.