To Elaine on her fortieth birthday

Once upon a time there was a sweet faced girl who stared down her parents over some barrettes on the floor. She made her parents look at each other and say, “We are so fucked!”.

People think this is urban legend but I, as the mother in this story, am here to tell you this is true.

I will skip past her conception story, because I don’t want to gross her out, but in the early morning hours of July 21st, I found myself going to the bathroom several times. We made a trip to, what was then, St. Mary’s Hospital in Hoboken, New Jersey. They checked me out and sent me home. My husband went on to work and my mother and sister took over the baby watch.

Many, many, many hours later I returned to the hospital to await the birth of my first child. The year was 1979 and we didn’t know what we were having. Our baby shower cake said, “Pink or blue we welcome you”, something many of you are not familiar with.

I’m gonna skip over the baby arrival prep, because I still find it all gross, and move onto the labor room. I couldn’t tell you what time my husband got there from work, because there’s absolutely no clock on the wall (have they fixed that yet?). I squished his hand a few times and he figured that maybe there shouldn’t be any more kids. I was twenty years old and he’d just turned twenty one. At that time, we were old enough to drink, but were we old enough to have a child? We were about to find out.

When they realized that all the amniotic fluid was gone, people started running and I was prepped for a cesarean section. I was told not to breathe while they injected something into my spine and then I found myself in an operating room trying not to hyperventilate. They told me that I would feel some pressure and then I heard them say, “Come look, this is the textbook example of ring band.” I wouldn’t learn what that meant until years later.

My delivery left me with an eight pound baby in an incubator, to stave off infection, and me in a bed with an antibiotic iv, unable to move around. I was the last person to see the child I helped create.

Seven days later, yea I bet you’re jealous now new mommies, I tried to leave the hospital and my body decided to bleed all over the lobby. Ok, so it wasn’t all over the lobby but it was enough to send me back upstairs for another night.

Two years later we had a child staring us down over some hair barrettes on the floor. Those of you who know Elaine, know that I pick up all those barrettes.

Elaine walked into her first day of daycare like she was the boss. She later decided to punch a kid in the nose so she could be first in line. Sigh. That child was the boss of everything. She was the first grandchild, the first great grandchild. She was everything. And she knew it!

My grandmother, who was in Puerto Rico at the time of her birth, held her in one hand while stirring the food, when I took her to the Bronx for the first time. My uncle told my grandmother to keep her voice down and Dona Maria said, “Que se acostumbre”.

My great grandfather, Papa Chago, loved the way that Elaine talked back to his daughter, Elaine’s great grandmother. I think that he missed seeing all of us, his great grandchildren, as babies. Elaine had a tataro abuelo until she was seven years old and we felt blessed.

Let the wheel of life flow, so now we have a teen aged Elaine, remember the story of baby Elaine? We have flown over the pre-teen, hormonal years, and found that this little bitch is still with us. Sigh. She now has a sister, four years younger, that Elaine feels she is the boss of. I came home from work one day to find them tangled on the floor, fighting over what to watch on the television. I stepped over them and put on my favorite channel. Yes, that urban legend is also true.

Elaine graduated from Mustard Seed School, and later from St. Dominic Academy, with an academic scholarship to Rutgers University, her mother’s alma mater.

She drove her sister to her first school dance at St. Dominic’s. She crawled into my lap, upon her return, and told me how hard it was to watch her little sister walk away from her. She appreciated how hard it was for me, as her mother, to do the same for her.

Her graduation from Rutgers College of Nursing was a moment of pride, for a person who grew up wanting to be a nurse and yet became a Social Worker. After working several years, she went on to work on her Master’s degree, making me and her sister cry over how difficult the classroom work really was, because we were there to prop her up when she wanted to give up. We celebrated over martinis at NYC’s Brooklyn Diner, where she said, “Maybe I’ll go for my doctorate.” Jillian and I asked for more martinis and prayed she wouldn’t.

Many hospitals have been made better because of her work ethic. Patients who might have died have lived  to go on to productive lives. I have survived discussions of holding someone’s guts in her hands, over dinner. I have survived discussions of liver transplant patients, over dinner. And have been exposed to many more medical terms than any medical drama on television. And yet, when she is sick, she still wants her mother’s chicken soup, which I hand over gladly.

We hit Yankee Stadium four times a season. We attend Broadway shows. We watch Marvel movies together. We viewed the finales of Sons of Anarchy and Game of Thrones together. We hit happy hour at Houlihan’s more times than we’re willing to admit. We have vacationed together. We hit the wineries twice a year. We share an iTunes library of movies and books. And my nurse daughter finds a way to always be there for family events, despite her difficult schedule.

This is my child. This is my teen. This is my adult child.

There are parts of me in her, that work so much better in her.

She is my Khaleesi and I love her three thousand.

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “To Elaine on her fortieth birthday

  1. This is so touching. Your relationship is inspirational. I am going through those teen years with my daughter and what you to share seems impossible but hopefully we can one day emulate this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s