Happy Birthday, Elliot

My boy has a big birthday coming up soon. How did the years fly so swiftly?

Decades ago, soon after my pregnancy was confirmed, I began getting boy vibes. This was confirmed by everyone once I began “to show” (quaint  last-century euphemism for this century’s  “baby bump.”)

I carried high. A boy! one neighbor predicted. I was glowing. Definitely a boy, declared Aunt Ruth. You NEVER contradicted Aunt Ruth, and so I began thinking up boy names. As the weeks progressed and the bump turned into a bulge and then a behemoth, it felt like my abdomen had been invaded by rock ’em sock ’em robots. Boy, definitely boy, said a co-worker whose wife’s second cousin had three sons and who swore each one behaved as if her uterus were Madison Square Gardens boxing ring.

As the eldest of three sisters and the daughter of one of three sisters, boys never registered for much of my youth. They were pretty much an alien species until sixth grade when I developed a huge crush on Edward Lamb. What if my intuition, the neighbor, Aunt Ruth and that second cousin who named her sons Evander, Sonny and Tyson were right? What would it be like to raise a son?

I could have never imagined over those nine months the myriad of unexpected delights that awaited me—the thrill of watching utter physical abandon as my son raced across fields, his childhood obsession with tools, his lifelong passion for cars, a spur-of-the-moment jump into a lake to dog paddle with a Labrador Retriever.

There was the nightly heart-brimming joy of peeking into his room to watch him sleep, and the pride of watching him graduate from high school and then college. There was the frantic trip to the emergency room to stitch up the cut to his inner cheek when he decided to play trampoline on the toilet seat. There were dandelion bouquets, endless readings of Richard Scarry books, and a Mother’s Day poem a few years back whose pages I bound within beautiful paper and keep by my bedside. There was also that tumultuous fifteenth year when querulous aliens possessed his body. They departed as swiftly as they arrived, returning to us the familiar kind, thoughtful, funny, creative son who suddenly needed a razor and had an unending affinity for Polo aftershave.

My boy has a big birthday coming up soon. Aunt Ruth and the others never told me about the singular sweetness of boys and a mother’s astonishment at their manliness. How did such a big man come from me? I have watched my son triumph in achievement, and grieve as some dreams were set aside.  He has never allowed the former to swell his head nor the latter to curtail his future. My hopes for him expand to include his sweet and beautiful wife. And a baby bump one day?

My boy has a big birthday coming up, and so I wish for him the realization of all his dreams and more. May he be blessed with health and long life, with laughter and good deeds. May he come to know the joy of parenthood and to remember, should aliens ever possess his teen-aged children, they will depart as swiftly as they arrived.

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12 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Elliot

  1. Manny Kalef

    Hi Debra,
    I only had girls, but some of the shtick you attribute to boys, can also be applied to girls (in spades).Just so you and he understand, the man he is now was started in his home, with his parents . Fortunately, he learned well. Not all of them do. Best of everything to your entire family.


  2. Shelby Hodgkins

    Cam’s big birthday is not far behind- and their friendship throughout the years (since she first asked “Do you have good toys?…) I think enriched both of them- and us- as we were able to share watching them both grow into the beautiful adults they are. I miss those childhood years at the same time as I relish their adult years. Mazel tof, El, I hope to meet your beautiful bride sometime soon!

  3. Verne

    Who could have imagined the depth of a mother’s love and what a fine young man he would be.

  4. Nancy Kalef

    How is it that your son is having a ‘big birthday’ and you look like you did 15 minutes after you delivered him?? Happy Birthday to Elliot and mazel-tov to his beautiful Mom.

  5. debbie valencia

    I now find myself wondering as a Mom of adult children how my own Mom recalls the birth/growth of her own three offspring! Your mention of Richard Scarry is also a family tradition, first my brothers were fans, then my kids and their many books are here to pass on someday. My David, 21 this March , recalled with us some of the memories of the past 21 including legos and Richard Scarry, and we gave him JK Rowling’s now adult novel. Books are part of our experience and connection to the days that were! Congrats Debra, you made it through and the beyond is now.

  6. Cindy La Ferle

    Loved this post. As you know, I am the mother of a grown son, who’s now 29. I loved the whole experience of parenting a boy, but it was also a challenge at times. Am so proud of my “boy” today and cannot believe how fast the years fly. I am also an admirer of Robert Wicks, whose work I discovered in the book store on the U of Notre Dame campus, back when my son was a student there. Always found his work to be very accessible, powerful, good.

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