So this week my daughter turned 16…my nephew turned to me and said “why is 16 such a big deal…I mean it’s not like she’s moving away to college this year or anything.” I said to him “you’re right, I don’t really know why it is considered a big birthday” and then I turned to walk away and I swear to god it was like someone punched me in the stomach. I literally exhaled and could not breathe in for like two whole minutes, which is a long fucking time even if it sounds like nothing. My daughter is almost going to be moving away. If I didn’t have all five of our kids plus my nephew standing in the kitchen, I would have started sob crying right there. But I couldn’t, and now it is 10 o’clock at night, Jim is upstairs asleep, and I am sitting at the kitchen table sob crying like an asshole.
It is the weirdest cry I may have ever had…mostly because I don’t know what the f—k I am crying about. Sometimes you just can’t f’ing believe this is your life, I guess. So here you go Megan, this is why I am crying at 10 at night over you.
You made me a mother even though I thought I was too young and making a huge mistake with my life. I was still in college and your dad and I weren’t even living in the same state, let alone married, when I found out about you. I cried then for the first time over you.
I like to tell people I had a “near-teen pregnancy” with you but that’s not really the case…
I was 22 god damn years old when you were born, but still, if you knew what I was like back then, you’d agree, your mother was near-teen mentally.
You were born 22 days early and your dad brought Budweiser beer can slippers to the hospital and carried all my belongings crumbled in a ball in his hands, no bag.
You came out in record time, like two hours only, and you looked like an unborn chicken, I am sorry I don’t know how else to put it, your legs were way too long and you were way too skinny. The nurses called in other nurses to look at you because you were two feet long at birth, most nurses there had never seen a baby that long. You were screaming and your mouth looked like mine, huge. I cried then because I was worried you would have lock jaw like I used to have.
Your Aunt Carole (who will never forget watching you be born) held you, your dad held you and then you were all mine for the next six hours. It was like my own real cabbage patch doll. When grandpa came to see you early that morning, he tried to have a serious talk with me, reminding me that you aren’t a cabbage patch doll and this isn’t playing house. I only half heard him bc I had taken you down to your diaper and was holding you up so your legs could dangle, this was gonna be awesome.
It was about 88 degrees outside the day we brought you home, but you wouldn’t know it, I had put a fleece blanket and a hat on you for the car ride. Halfway home I turned around to look at you and you had tiny beads of sweat on your nose…I started crying then and asked dad to turn around and go back to the hospital because you were sweaty.
Grandma was there (thank god) and she literally could not get enough of you. She helped me put you to bed and when I asked her to sleep in bed next to me, she said no, I had to take care of you, and I’ll be damned, I cried.
At 6am, I woke up and realized you hadn’t gotten up once since midnight to eat. I thought I had killed you the first night. I flipped on the light in total panic and you were wide eyed just lying there. I cried then too, mostly out of relief because I hadn’t killed you.
There was a few times you cried so much I thought I could throw you out the window into the corn field. I cried at those times too.
There was times I sat you on my bed and stared at you for an absurdly long time because I couldn’t get over how awesome I thought you were, I cried then too.
Oh also, I clipped your teeny tiny thumb with the nail clippers that first week, and yep, cried then too. I also have never cut yours or your siblings nails ever since then, that’s grandma’s job forever.
I cried a few more times when you were a baby, but that was mostly hormones or because you were being an asshole baby and keeping me up at night. But that’s really it for the crying until today.
For some reason, hearing “moving away to college” stung like a bitch. And while I laid in bed before coming down to write this, I started to realize all the things I remembered and how they feel like they just happened, all mothers feel this and some of us cry harder than others, not because we are sad, but because we are happy and feel so lucky to have memories like these…
I remember the name of the nurse that first handed you to me, her name is Rosemary.
I remember how your skin felt when you were born, you had super soft fuzz all over you because you were 22 days early.
I remember the first night you rolled over in your baby bed.
I remember trying to comb your hair the first week…you were bald, but not to me…you had a ton of hair to me.
I remember trying to feed you infant cereal way too fucking early, and your face when I tried to put a spoon in your mouth. You survived, despite what all the baby experts say nowadays.
I remember putting the swing on the patio so you could have fresh air, while I sat and did homework at the patio table, you smiled the entire time at me and I got nothing done.
I remember your first word was birdie…and you weren’t even one yet.
I remember you could say “bow wow” literally one hundred times in row without taking a breath, and there were no dogs around.
I remember when your nana’s bird flew out of the cage and I screamed and ran and so did you, absolutely hysterical and when you finally calmed down, you turned to me and asked “why we running and screaming mama? Is the bird gonna eat us?” You’re still scared of birds.
I remember you couldn’t say the letter S, so you called our dog Sparty, Party instead.
I remember the time you shared a stick of butter with Sparty.
I remember we were laying in my bed, exhausted one afternoon, and I turned to you and said “I forgot to put up the god damn gate for the dog,” and you grabbed my cheeks with your tiny hands, pulled my face so our noses were touching and said in the gentlest, most calming voice, “I locked the god damn gate mama.”
I remember your Halloween costumes. All of them, every year, since forever. I cannot say that about your siblings.
I remember you wanting to be called Christine, from the Phantom of the Opera, for like six straight months.
I remember when I walked into a screen door and you called out “cuidado cuidado!” I didn’t know wtf that was till you were in 2nd grade and told me about Spanish class. Thank you Dora…for the early immersion.
I remember when you fell at basketball and I screamed out like a psycho parent for you to get up, and you got up and screamed right back at me to leave you alone. Well done.
I remember when we ate our body weight in pasta and pizza together and tried four different gallons of gelato when we were on your volleyball trip to Minneapolis, and laughed the whole time.
I remember how worried you were when your dad and I got divorced…not for yourself, but for me and your dad. You are way too caring of others.
I remember the day you faked sick to stay home from school bc your group of girls was going to kick someone out of the group and you didn’t like that.
I remember when you cartwheeled and danced around the homeless shelter for entertainment during a service project. The other girls were too embarrassed to try, but you didn’t care…that is one of my favorites.
I remember the countless times I thought I was screwing up and going to ruin the great kid you were, but no matter the mistakes I made, you were better than any of them.
Everyone wants to be around you and it is so easy to see why, you are silly, funny, compassionate and someone who isn’t afraid to put yourself out to make others feel loved, happy or silly themselves. Everyone matters to you and that is a trait that few have and many envy (me in particular).
Our worlds are a better place because you are in it, and that near-teen pregnancy turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. Who knew 🙂
p.s. I will beat your ass if you mess up my car. Love you the most.