In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Happy Happy Joy Joy.”
Four and a half weeks ago, Beej was born. Although we became grandparents when Michael married Jasmine, adding CJ to our family, Baby Beej was the first baby to join our family since Andrew was born 19 years ago. When I walked into the Special Care Nursery and saw my firstborn son standing next to the bassinet, his newborn baby clutching his finger looking so much like he had when was born, I cried. And then when my son spoke and little Beej turned his head in the direction of his father’s voice, the tears came again. Day after day, I would see my new little grandchild and my eyes would fill.
I thought that I was done with those happy tears until last night when I was over at their apartment. Michael was talking and Beej was straining to see his dad. Michael picked him up, cradling him in his arms but outstretched so that the baby could see him. Baby Beej stared intently at his father, his eyes never straying. Michael returned his steady gaze and said, “Yes, it’s me, the most interesting man in the room.” Beej was totally entranced in a way he did not show with anyone else.
And I cried again.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Unsung Heroes.”
Unsung Hero- a person who makes a substantive yet unrecognized contribution; a person whose bravery is unknown or unacknowledged.
When I saw today’s daily prompt earlier today….well that would be yesterday now that it’s after 2:00a.m…. I planned on giving it some thought and getting back to it later. Then my day got in the way. And I forgot.
I’ve spent a lot of time with my daughter-in-law, my grandson and my newest grandson lately but my son, Michael, has been gone. A lot. And I’ve missed him. A lot.
When I woke up a couple hours ago (my insomnia is horrible these days), I was catching up on reading the blogs that I follow when I came across one that was written in response to the daily prompt. This time I had no doubt in my mind.
Michael is my unsung hero. But you don’t know Michael, do you? I realized that I don’t talk about him that much, do I?
Well, he’s married to Jasmine and has 2 children. CJ is five and he wants to grow up to be just like his daddy. I hope he does! Michael didn’t know much of anything about kids when he and Jasmine began dating but he took to fatherhood like a fish to water. He not only took on another man’s responsibility, he became CJ’s daddy in every way he possibly could. All those years ago when I thought he wasn’t listening? Well, he was and he proves it every time he opens his mouth and something I used to say to him comes out.
Baby B is 3 weeks old. The first time I saw him in the hospital special care nursery, he was laying there holding onto Michael’s finger and when Michael spoke, B’s head turned toward his voice. It wasn’t coincidental, as I have witnessed B search out his daddy every time he hears his voice, even in a room with all of us (Ari barking in the background). If Michael didn’t know much about toddlers, he knew even less than about newborns. Because Jasmine had a rough delivery, Michael took on more of the parenting duties than is usually expected of a new father. Because he had to leave again when B was only 3 days old to complete his training, he had to pack a lot of bonding into a short time. And he did.
Michael is such an amazing big brother to Kris and Andrew. It was never more evident than when he found out that Kris was transgender and not even fully understanding the enormity of it in the beginning, he never missed a step. He swooped in and kept a close eye on both of his brothers, gathering them close to him and coining the greeting, “Hey, brother!” which is uttered back and forth between the three of them constantly, along with CJ sometimes chiming in. I wouldn’t be surprised to find him ‘hey brother’-ing Baby B before long.
He has packed a lot into the 6 years since he graduated from high school. He became an EMT within 6 months of graduation. Four years later he got his paramedic certification. And just 9 weeks ago he entered firefighter academy. He graduated last week and he will begin his first day as a firefighter tomorrow- well, actually in a few short hours! This has been his dream for as long as I can remember. He knew what he wanted to do and he worked for it. He worked HARD for it!
All of these things could make him a hero in my eyes and to a certain degree, they do. But it wasn’t these things that came to mind when I thought of him. It was something that happened this evening.
Michael and family were over doing laundry. It was slightly chaotic in the house with CJ racing around causing Ari, who is still figuring out what to do with Baby B, to run around barking. Mr. K and I had just returned from the wake of the father of kids that all my kids had gone to school with. I was quiet, trying not to let my sadness get the best of me. As I walked past Michael, who was folding clothes, he glanced at me and asked, “You okay, Mom?”
I nodded and said, “Yes” in what I hoped was a reassuring voice. It wasn’t.
He set down the towel and hugged me, saying, “I love you, Mom.” It was a solid hug and gosh, it felt really good. I had missed him. And I had needed that hug!
I’m not a touchy feely person. I can be described as prickly at best unless you are my grandson. Those hugs and I love yous don’t come easy to me.
In that moment and the moments that followed, as I watched my son taking care of his wife and his baby, altering CJ’s firefighter helmet that used to be his as a child to reflect his badge number, knowing how hard he had worked to achieve his dream, and realizing that there are some men in the world who, if they had done any of these things, would expect some kind of recognition but not him. Not Michael.
I am proud of him and I’m proud to call him my son.
It was the week before we left to take Andrew to college when I first heard about this movie. Andy had mentioned that it was playing at the small theater in town and he wanted to see it. Kris also expressed an interest to see it. I’ll be honest with you. I had no desire to see it. I didn’t know what it was about. I was pretty much freaking out all over the place because we were leaving to take Andrew to school and I wasn’t handling these last few days very well at all. They wouldn’t let it drop so I finally asked what this movie was. I know- bad mom- why did I assume I wouldn’t want to see the movie without knowing what it was about? All I can say is that I was caught up in my full-scale panic and wasn’t paying attention.
They told me that the movie was about a boy who grows up on camera. They explained that it was filmed over the course of 12 years and it was about a boy. For two intelligent guys with above average writing skills and vocabularies, they did not do this film justice in their description. Just sayin’. I wasn’t sold. My husband convinced me that it would be fun. I still wasn’t sold but I was too tired from stressing out to fight so I went with.
If you are unfamiliar with this movie, let me explain a little more than my sons did with me. This movie was written and directed by Richard Linklater. The concept was simple- use the same actors and film a small bit of the movie for a few weeks once a year over the course of 12 years. The movie shows the main character, Mason, grow up before the viewer’s eyes. When it begins he is 6 years old. The view sees Mason grow up, along with his sister, and his parents (played by Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke) also age as the movie progresses.
This movie snuck up on me. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I didn’t think I was even going to like it. As I watched the nominations for Golden Globes announced this morning and heard that “Boyhood” was nominated for 5 awards- Best Drama Picture, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director, and Screenplay, I was reminded again of how great this movie is. I really do think it is an award winning movie.
For more reasons than one, I will forever associate this movie with Andrew leaving for college. It will also remind me to slow down and take time to look around and listen when I’m feeling stressed about time running out because I might miss something important- like those little things. Like this movie that will forever make me cry.
I wrote this piece as part of the Daily Prompt- Postaday- Ready, Set, Done!
I’m adding the movie trailer to the end of the post, in case you are interested to see what this movie is all about.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Cue the Violins.”
Here’s the funny thing about today’s prompt. We are all sort of music crazy in this family and at any given moment, we can pull out a mix CD we made or a playlist from a certain time in our lives. I recently wrote a post about what my theme song would be-you can read it here → Theme Song. It’s “Freckles” by Natasha Bedingfield.
My soundtrack would begin and end with “(I Want to) Come Home” by Paul McCartney.
The childhood/teen years would be sprinkled with: The Partridge Family Theme Song- Come on Get Happy and The Jacksons- ABC and other groovy 70’s music.
As adulthood struck the music would be a healthy mix of Beatles- “In My Life”, “Strawberry Fields”, “Lucy in the Sky”, and “Ob-La-Di”. I think it’s a good representation and great background to the crazy kid-raising years!
And with 2015 in the horizon, the songs would take on a fun, carefree tone with select songs from Frozen. And closing music would be back to Paul McCartney with “(I Want to) Come Home”.
Let me start by saying hi from your future self. Things are pretty easy for you right now. I’m not sure if you realize that. Michael has just entered high school and you’ve just met John, who will become one of your closest friends. You are busy learning how to navigate the high school world as a parent and watching Michael turn into a stranger. Kris is eleven years old, in middle school and just on the cusp of puberty. And Andrew is just nine years old, counting the days until he can join band like his older siblings. You’ve got three kids in three different schools and you feel like you’re spread a bit thin at times but just wait! You are in for the most challenging, rewarding and fun time of your life!!!
After Michael’s punk rock stage complete with skinny jeans, creepers and questionable friends, the roller coaster ride that was Kris’s high school years ending with Andrew entering high school and puberty in the same quiet unassuming way he approaches everything in his life, you will face the biggest challenge of your life when you find out that one of your children is transgender. From that moment on your life will change in such a way that you won’t be able to remember what it was like before. While learning what it means to be transgender, you will struggle with the realization that you did not know this very important detail about your child. You will have the unique opportunity to take a closer look at every single aspect of your life because there will no corner of your life that goes untouched by this revelation. You will question your parenting skills, the authenticity of your family and the memories you’ve made, your relationships with your children……. You will find out who REALLY is there for you and this and this alone will be the greatest challenge you face. The rest will seem as insignificant as Michael’s hair reaching his shoulders sophomore year.
But the rewards? The rewards are amazing! You will learn to LOVE teenagers. (You better- you will spend 13 years parenting teenagers.) You will actually become closer to your children during their teen years and its this bond that will help you all survive the hard times, keeping your family intact. In fact, one of the greatest gifts you will receive is that your family will become so much tighter than you were before. You will weather the storm together and come out on the other side so much stronger. Best of all will be watching two of your children rally around the third in a way you would have never thought possible. And having a front row seat and sometimes supporting role in the transition of your child becoming who he has always known he was- that’s incredible!
And there will be fun. As your family bands together adding Jasmine and CJ to the ranks (and quite seamlessly too, I might add), you will learn to have fun. You will find the humor in most everything and enjoy it to the fullest. You will take to grandparenting like a fish to water. I know, you’re thinking you’re too young to be a grandma and yes, you will be one of the younger grandmas around. There is nothing like the feeling you get when a child looks at you like you hung the moon and added the stars, just for him. Talk about falling in love! If you’re still feeling a little skittish at being called “Grandma”, have no fear. We are still working with CJ to accept (your)my name as Nonna before the new baby is born. The verdict is still out but you won’t care. Remember, you love kids and you are going to absolutely adore grandchildren! Brush up on your Star Wars knowledge and stay current on the newest Disney characters.
The next ten years will be busy and at times they won’t be easy but they are necessary. Every step you take, every funny thing that becomes a memory you will come to laugh at, every struggle that makes you stronger, every tear you cry thinking this is your breaking point- all of these things and more are preparing you for what lies ahead.