a letter to my future self, 18 years ago

also entitled: what they don't tell you in the ultrasound or happy birthday buddy

It will hurt. Freaking hell, that will be the worst pain you will ever know. You will grimace and groan. You will squinch your face all the day long and then, in desperation, you will summon The Fan, grab her by the Pucci neckline, pull her face close to yours, and after months of insisting that you will not take pain relief, you will say, "I have been thinking about this for a long time. Get.Me.The.Drugs.Now".

After the delivery, you will be wheeled to your room and presented with something resembling goulash but the nurse informs you that since it is Wednesday, it is chicken pot pie. Since it neither looks nor smells like chicken pot pie, you will summons The Secret Weapon and the newly-anointed Uncle Bug to Pizza Hut wherein they will fetch you sustenance.

At this point, you will realize that the custom wallpaper that you ordered for the nursery hasn't arrived. Your careful planning and specific timelines required you to place the order several months ago and yet, there is no sign of it. You will pick up the phone, as you have done every afternoon for the past two weeks and you will phone the wallcovering store. In exasperation, the woman will inform you that there is "no rush" and you are being "impatient." Obviously, this woman was not previously informed that those particular phrases have a red-flag-like effect on your reactive trigger and you let loose on her that the rush is now in fact over, and the wallpaper is indeed late, why the child has been born and the pizza is on its way and surely, if she were adept at her job, she would have ensured that said wallpaper was already in place.

You will slam down the phone just as the nurse brings the sad, wallpaper-less child to you. You will enjoy him for mere seconds before your older brother, who until this point has been a faceless, nameless entity on the blog but will now be called The Hog - not only because of his law-enforcement career at the time, because he hogs your infant for the remainder of the day. The Hog looks intently upon the baby and pays no attention to anyone else in the room. When it is decided that someone else should hold the baby... say... the mother... The Hog passes the child for a moment or two and then "returns" to give you a break. The Hog then passes the baby to its grandmother, and after a few moments, decides to also give her "a break." And so it will continue for several hours, the entire family taking turns holding the eight-pound-beast that you just expelled for only seconds at a time, because The Hog is living up to the nickname he will grow into over time.

You will love the child more than you could have ever imagined. He will be the easiest baby to care for ever, sleeping through the night almost immediately. He will smile and coo and eat anything that you offer him. Stupidly, you will offer him an Orange Julius. For eighteen years, you will have to stop at that damned kiosk every time you are in a mall.

Oh, and by the way: on that day, he will fall into the water fountain at the mall while you and The Fan are engrossed in conversation. You should pack an extra set of clothes in the diaper bag, but you won't. You will look like a horrible mother, with a sopping child whose face is smeared with sugar drink when you take him into a store to buy a warm dry outfit to take him home in. You will be embarrassed, and it will hurt. You will laugh about it someday, but not that day.

He will grow and grow. Throughout the years, you will go on "dates" together, sharing special time discussing things that are important to him: Transformers, Sonic the Hedgehog, Star Wars. Wisely, you will create a "NO BARNEY" zone, ensuring that you are not subjected to hear the grotesque noise of "children's entertainment." You will play good music like Nirvana, Radiohead and Blind Melon. Before he can speak coherently, Buddy (as he is known almost immediately in the arms of The Hog) will shriek in delight when he hears "Life is a Highway" and beg to hear "Tom Popcorn" more, more!

You will take him to see his idol Tom Cochrane at the age of three, but you will never have heard of Gwynyth Paltrow and those tiny ear protectors that future-Apple wears at concerts. He will always love music.

He will bring you the greatest joy. When is is only four, he will sing Robbie Robertson songs to you in the car. You won't recognize the song "Broken Arrow" at first, but that's what he's singing. He will wear a Clash tee shirt at the age of five. You will have to make it from one of your shirts.

He will say "hellooooo dahhhhling" to The Hog's wife when he sees her, and her nickname will stick. Darling is a music teacher and when she presses her head to his, he hums with her and she announces that he has perfect pitch.

You will buy him his first guitar when he is twelve. Although you arrange for lessons, he learns to play by ear. He will serenade you when you are sick, and you will be sick often. He will beg to sleep at the foot of your bed after you have some of the countless surgeries that you will have. He will sing to you in the night. In order to get some sleep, you will have to insist that he stop singing. He will hum instead.

You will be in the hospital yet again on one of his birthdays. You have sworn to always be together at 5:03 p.m. on that day, forever, no matter what. The Fan will bring him to you along with some takeout and a small cake. The nurse will bring in a tray resembling something like goulash but she will tell you it is chicken pot pie. You and The Fan will exchanged shocked glances when the nurse assures you that since it is Wednesday, it is in fact chicken pot pie.

You will then light the candle on his birthday cake and set off the smoke alarm in the hospital. Nurses and attendants come rushing to your room, which is filled with the piercing sound of the siren and you will be embarrassed. You will go into surgery and it will hurt.

He will grow taller than you. For Christmas, he will buy you a guitar. He decides to give you lessons. You have severe arthritis, and it hurts. He thinks that playing the instrument is good for your crippled hands and he tries, every Tuesday night, to teach you. Some nights you can barely hold the guitar because it hurts so much, but he tunes it for you and he picks it up while you are in the kitchen and he plays for you. He will play a Blind Melon song and say that he always has liked that song, it reminds him of being little.

In eighteen years, you will look back on all of this with moist eyes and flushed embarrassment. He will be taller than you, wearing his own Pink Floyd shirt. You will carry home - all way from Arizona - a special guitar to celebrate this day. He will request carrot cake and lasagna, so you'd better find a good recipe. You will have a party and almost everyone who was there on the first night will attend, including The Hog and Darling and their three sons, who will probably bring their instruments and play along with your baby. The sound of rock music will echo from the basement while the adults are trying to visit and you should beg them to turn it down, but you won't.

Because you know that someday very soon, he will be playing one of those noisy guitars that you bought for him somewhere else and the thought of that will hurt the most.


Oliver Rain said...

Saucy, this is so lovely. It's so amazing to look back and remember that person standing beside you, was once a tiny little baby that you created.

18 years old! Wow. It sounds like it will be a great party.

Janet said...

Wow. Just...wow. So beautifully written! Happy Birthday Buddy!

MJ said...

Hope Buddy and cousins' music rocks your house! Happy birthday, Buddy!

Anonymous said...

Hey..I have been a "stalker" of your blog for awhile! It always brightens my day...you make me laugh! This time your post brought tears to my eyes! What a beautiful letter to your son...hope you scrapbook it! You are a wonderful mother! Happy birthday Buddy!

Wendy T

Susan said...

What a special story for your son.

Happy Birthday, Buddy!

Cha Cha said...

What a lovely post, and what a lovely, lovely son. Thank you for sharing your blessing with us.

Junie Moon said...

What a great story! Happy birthday to your son. And, although most people forget that someone actually had to labor (as in work hard) to produce a child on his/her day of birth--happy delivery day anniversary to you, too!

Anonymous said...

Love this post! And Saucy, I hear that clock ticking down in my home, too. I feel your joy and pain all at the same time.

Amy said...

That brought tears to my eyes and reminded me why I read blogs.
Happy birthday to your son!

tricia said...

O.k. this one made me bawl!! I am bawling again as I read it. Love it!

jkddz said...

perfectly said... picturing me and my time with my son... who is also my first child....but we have 8 more years to celebrate his 18th... you have inspired me to write him something like this and give him it on that day!

Prpldy said...

OMG! It's amazi9ng that time has flown the way it has. And such wonderful memories.

prpldy (at) comcast.net

Anonymous said...

That is so beautiful.