It’s Madison’s 18th birthday on Sunday and I will be expected to do one of those Facebook posts of , “18 years ago today…” And for most folks that’s fine, that actually works just great (those posts make me tear up in fact), except not for me, because for me it always seems like there’s more that needs to be said. Like for instance, that Madison spent the first 3 days of her life in the NICU. Like that I was in labor for 30 hours or that when we finally got to go home, I wondered that the hospital people didn’t even know who I was and would apparently give a baby to “just anyone.”
I feel like I need to say that Madison cried almost nonstop for the first three months of her life and that I was by myself then since her Dad hadn’t yet gotten out of the Coast Guard and moved out to live with us.
I feel like it needs to be said that she was hardly ever easy and that she said no a lot, and still takes a while before she’ll agree on anything. I feel like I need to say that I only learned to be a mom, or to have any patience, or to stand up for myself by raising her.
And also that sometimes I wasn’t very good at it. Tonight one of my old friends and fellow teachers said again that it takes a village, and I could only nod… I could only say yes so hard to that sentiment and to all the people over the years it has taken to keep us going. It has taken Meg, who some nights left her own family to come be ours. It has taken Susan, who has been my friend and confidant for so many years. It has taken my sister, who helped to drive us to Charlotte when our options in Seattle ran out. It took my brother who helped give us a start and Kelly who gave me a job here and all the people of Park Road who stood with us both every day and listened. It took both grandmas who obviously gave Madison her sense of fashion (she didn’t get it from me). It took Ann who would just let me vent when I came in crying on mornings I had to yell Madison out of bed, or when I worried The Girl wouldn’t graduate on time.
Today her Dad called and he has her plane ticket. She’ll fly out to live with him on the 24th and get a job and start school there. It felt like me all over again at the hospital with this new parent weight around my shoulders when he said, “I’m a bit scared.” I explained that I’ve been a mom for a very long time and just call. I felt myself put faith in her future and in theirs together–in the unknown. That is a very hard thing to do. A few weeks ago I was having a crying jag and I said to a friend,”I don’t know what will happen.” And he said something akin to, “welcome to life.” And that is the great difficult mystery, to put faith in the unknown…in the hasn’t yet evolved and the can’t quite be grasped.
This evening a friend called Madison our future and described her as well rounded and I thought of where she came from, where we both came from and what we both came through and I am so thankful that our village stood by, that they did not let me go it alone. And I will always and ever be grateful for that, every year on September 13th I will remember how The Girl (and I) were surrounded and loved.