Once upon a time, this date meant the cumulation of 18 years of hard work. Eight of those years geared specifically for this date. Hours of thinking, reading, writing, researching, asking questions, bothering teachers. Hours of babysitting, xeroxing, filing, answering phones, hauling boxes. All so that I could make fun of the ceremony with a friend, shake the hand of my mentor after he correctly pronounced my name, and throw tortillas instead of a cap. It was the most important day in my life. For a while.
Then that date was eclipsed five years later.
Now, on May 18th, I don’t think about racing home, because I overslept at my boyfriend’s place, to beat my parents to my apartment. I don’t think about the mad dash to get dressed and to the auditorium on time. I don’t think of tripping over the word “Ecclesiastes” in front of hundreds of people. I don’t think of my best friend looking right through me or winking at my mentor as I shook his hand or begging my friend to hide the tortillas because he was wearing pants and I was wearing a dress.
Instead I think of how I begged The Mother not to let me go into labor with four hours of sleep. I remember withering in pain on the ground as we waited for the babysitter to arrive. I think of crying at the thought of being too late to get epidural and the relief to get it. I think of how the baby arrived only because I was too stubborn and willful for my own good. I remember crying as I held Tornado S for the first time. I remember how I wanted just to stare at him, how I felt awake and alive even though I was so very, very tired.
Four years have passed with laughter and tears, smiles and frowns, triumphs and disappointments. Each day I marvel at this child that is mine who is so different from me and his father and his brother. Every day I am grateful he is my boy.
Happy Birthday, Tornado S.
(If you’re bored, here’s Tornado S’s birth story.)