I know that the holiday weekend was only four days, but it felt like much longer somehow.
We had a very nice Thanksgiving with some friends on Thursday. It went very well. Food was great, we played some Uno and I didn’t have to do any dishes. How could anyone complain about that?
Friday was my eldest daughters 30th birthday. Although I’ve marked every year of my childrens birth, this one seemed to be an especially significant one. I remember when she was a baby and I’d do the math to figure out how old I’d be when she hit 30. It seemed like that day was so far away back then, so when it finally arrived, I had to take a moment to examine how I felt about it.
Think… think… think….
I think I feel better about it now than I thought I’d feel about
it then. Aside from the natural uncertainty that 30 years would hold, I had fears of being unable to care for and support both she and I, along with fears of being alone and unhappy. I knew I’d always do whatever I needed to do, but that didn’t mean it would be something that was necessarily pleasant or easy to do. As it turns out, it wasn’t always easy, but it was certainly more pleasant than I thought it would be.
When #1 was born, I was a teenage mother. I had finished high school and had found a job in an automobile dealership before my daughter was 3 months old. My pregnancy hadn’t been easy and I had been bed-ridden for 3 months prior to her birth. The full extent of her father’s interaction had been to visit me twice. Once for about 1/2 hour and the second time was for 10 minutes which had been just long enough to bring me a dirty stuffed animal he’d found on the side of the road, “for the baby”. Um… hello? (obviously, I hadn’t been thinking too clearly 7 months earlier…duh) At that point, I knew that I was most likely on my own, which was exactly what happened. Thankfully, my parents, while highly disappointed in me, never held anything against my daughter. She was the apple of my father’s eye and both he and my mother poured all their love into the new baby in their lives.
That first year was difficult. As any teen mother will attest, my friends virtually vanished because I wasn’t available to go and do the way they were. I don’t blame them. Their lives were just different. I was still dealing with #1’s father, who had decided to move on at that point, and working and trying to figure out a way to continue paying for all the things my child needed and what I’d be doing for our future. Although my parents doted on her and allowed us to continue living in their home, I was responsible for all of our food, clothing, medical expenses and anything else she, or I, needed. Again, I thank my parents for making sure that I knew the full extent of what my responsibilities were. I think it would have been a disservice to both #1 and I if they had done anything less.
I liken this time in my life to feeling as if I were a Waring blender, on purée. So much was swirling around in my head so quickly.
#1’s first birthday was on Thanksgiving day. My grandparents and family were all gathered for the big meal and the celebration of their first child of the next generations’ birthday. Her father was supposed to attend. He was given the time. That time came and passed and we waited an extra hour before we decided it was time to do cake and presents. #1 was dressed in a sky blue dress with ruffles and her little white shoes with bells. (so I could always tell where she was in the house) She opened her gifts and found the boxes they came in, and standing on her toys, more interesting than what they were actually designed for, but she was happy.
In those days, nothing was open on Thanksgiving except MAYBE a 7-11 store. Her father was supposed to bring some diapers if he would ever arrive, but not wanting to be caught without something for her, I went to 7-11 to pick up a pack of diapers. Lo and behold… who was there… but her father. He had picked up cigarettes with nary a diaper in sight. I asked him if he was still planning on coming to see his child and he assured me he was, but he had to run an errand first.
Most of you should know by now that I’m a very trusting person who likes to believe in people and that they are basically good and will tell you the truth and stick by what they say. This has burned me more than once, but I still persist.
Over an hour later – well after her bath and just before her bedtime – he showed up. He had gone back to 7-11 and gotten her a tea cart made for children over 3, with so many small pieces there was no way it was safe for her to play with. Ok.. he actually showed up and he thought to bring her something.. but c’mon.
STICK WITH ME PEOPLE, IT GETS BETTER – Honest!!
I put my baby to bed and was feeling pretty low at this point. Again, I thought about what my life might be like when she was 30. It felt bleak.
I used to have a CB radio base station in my bedroom. Most of my social circle at that point were
people I’d talk to on the radio. (I haven’t gone too far from that, since internet is just another form of the same thought process – especially chat rooms) That night, I was poking around on the radio and listening to conversations. I stopped when I heard one voice and listened for a long while to two men talking about generalities and radios. One of them sounded like a good-natured person and had thrown out so many jokes that I wanted to join this conversation. Being female, and on the CB, meant that there was a good likelihood that they’d talk to me too, so I keyed up my microphone and made a comment about my dog. (a mean little thing that would bite your feet if you moved them after he’d fallen asleep on them)
That was it. Those were the first things my now husband heard me say. We talked on the radio for a while longer and then he asked me to call him; which I did. We spent the rest of the night on the phone and spoke again every day thereafter. Now, 29 years later, my life is nothing like I had thought it might be when #1 turned 30. My husband instantly fell in love with my little daughter and that made me instantly fall in love with him. The 3 additional children and a lifetime of love and laughter with him has definitely been better than I had ever hoped for.
You just never know….