Sunday, August 22, 2021

Love, more

It seems only fitting that the day my twin boys turn 21 years old we are preparing for the first hurricane to hit our region in 30 years.  Their shared arrival certainly upended our lives and changed our history as a family.  

However, this year feels different because while they are separate people my message to them is the same.  

So I return, once again, to this completely ignored space on the interwebs to acknowledge my twin boys' 21st birthday. 

Dear son and son,

Every year for your shared birthday I write each of you a letter that I don't actually give you but I post on this blog that I barely go to.  Every year I make an observation or five, impart some wisdom, assure you both I love you then wish you a Happy Birthday.

This year is different.  This year you both are turning 21.  Watching and listening to you both this year has been watching you be the adults you are.  The adults you are becoming.  I finally get to truly marvel at who you each are and not worry that my awe will overshadow some lesson or punishment. Because it is hard to be the stern disciplinarian assuring you have manners and common sense when being awe-struck.  Now I just get to be awe-struck.

While being a parent of young children and teens is fun and rewarding, I've been waiting for this time.  The time I get to just listen and not have to fix something because now you both have the skills and resources to do it yourself.  The time when we talk not because of some obligation but because we want to share something, laugh about something, figure out something or just remember.  Rest assured I'll still listen to your problems but more often than not I hope you'll figure out that you have the skills, strength and means to fix them yourself.  It may take some time, even years, but you'll figure it out.  Then I'll get to be awe-struck again.

This is the big birthday for all of us.  You're adults and I'm your adoring mom.  A role I will treasure and relish and celebrate.

Just like I do each of you.

Happy birthday.

I love you so very much.

Mama


Friday, April 23, 2021

Happy birthday, Happiness


 I return to this completely ignored space to acknowledge my daughter's 17th birthday.  


Dear Darling Daughter,

Here we are again.

Another pandemic birthday.

This is not what you or anyone who has a spring birthday thought would happen when celebrations were squashed last year.  Your plans for a Sweet 16 party were dashed because we were still under stay-at-home orders.  We hoped by this time in 2021 it would be over, that we would be out and about and you could have the bash with twice the blast to make up for the missed milestone celebration.

But we aren't there yet.  And you are facing it with your humor, grace, intelligence and some grumbling.  I'd worry if you didn't grumble at least a bit.

The milestone you didn't miss this year, although was a few months delayed, was getting your driver's license. Yet even that was caught up in the first few days of the pandemic.  The day of your final driver's education class was the day the state shut-down and your class was in limbo.  The Registry of Motor Vehicles wasn't offering learner's permits or tests.  But you were able to finish your class via Zoom and take your permit test online at home - something that was only offered for a short time.  It seems so normal now but a year ago it was all weird and yet you handled it.

Then the actual driving - being behind the wheel - began.  

There were times you fought me, tooth and nail, when trying a new skill, a new situation or even driving when you were in a bad mood (because one has to drive in any mood). Even though you are normally fearless you were plagued with doubt about driving.  It is never fun to push you but when I know you can do something that is my job.

When you passed your driver's license, in a snow storm no less, earlier this year you subtly danced through the parking lot back to our car.  You celebrated and beamed.  You drove by yourself around that day and now drive yourself to the train station most days to get to school.  You've driven on highways, Storrow Drive and Boston streets.  There are still days you marvel that you can do this.  

I don't.  I know you can do the tough things.  You have a core of strength that you have barely tapped.

Not even a pandemic has scratched the surface. I know it.

I love you,
Mom

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Love, More

I return to this completely ignored space to acknowledge my twin boys' 20th birthday.  I'm still marveling that these 6'1" young men started off on August 22, 2000 as 30-week preemies each weighing less than four pounds.


Dear son,

You were ready for college when you were 12 so finally getting to move into the dorm in a different part of the country was just a natural continuation of who you are.  You quickly made friends, settled into the rugby team and found the freedom of college life just what you hoped it would be.  Your rugby team even made national championship to be played in April and life was good.

Then a global pandemic hit.

You had to finish your freshman year in your childhood bedroom.  You couldn't return to your grocery store job because of concerns for my health.  You are facing a future that feels stunted and limited.

Yet you still have hope.  Still have purpose.  Still have your insane energy that makes you bounce around like a 6'1" Muppet.  You've been working on a U.S. Senate campaign and getting excited about how elections can make a difference.

We are navigating how to live together after you tasted the freedom of college.  You have generally been a joy to be around except for the late night kitchen raids (do the dishes).

Happy birthday.

I love you so very much.

Mama


Dear son,

College wasn't your thing and you were scared to tell me.  I am sorry you were ever worried to talk about what was important to you.  Since then you found a job with a paving company and then, mere months later, took a job with another company that quickly trained you to hook up gas lines.  You come home with stories from the field, random baked goods from grateful residents and a strong sense of purpose.  You are valued at the job and have colleagues who are mentoring you.

You are managing to thrive during a pandemic.  It is exciting to watch you make your own decisions and deal with the consequences.  You agonized about telling your boss you were giving your two weeks notice.  While the easy way out was to text, you thought through what to say in a phone call. In the end he was gracious and you are still in touch.

Thank you for being true to yourself.

Happy birthday.

I love you for being you.

Mama


Thursday, April 23, 2020

Happy Sweet 16, Happiness

I return to this completely ignored space to acknowledge my daughter's 16th birthday.  

Dear Darling Daughter,

This is not how you wanted your 16th birthday to be.

You had it all planned since January.  Well actually you started planning on the day you turn 15 because that is how you roll but we'll leave that part out.  You were going to have a dinner with friends this past Saturday, have cake and dinner of your choice this evening with me and Dad then head to your surrogate auntie's house to sleep over.  The day after your birthday you were going to Saratoga Springs, NY to spend the weekend at your first regatta as a varsity rower while your dad and I were going to fly super early in the morning to California to watch both your brothers in the National College Rugby Championships.  It was all planned.

Then a pandemic struck.  All those plans were cancelled and our lives were upended.

My worst birthday as a kid was around age 7 or 8 years old when I got a stomach bug and my parents had to postpone the party, stick the Ohlin's cake in the freezer and have the party a few weeks later.  But I still got to have my party pretty close to my actual birthday and Ohlin's cakes still tasted really good after being frozen.

Your 16th birthday, in fact this particular teenage year, can't easily be rescheduled or postponed.  You aren't getting to row with the varsity girls - a goal you've worked towards for over a year - and every regatta has been cancelled not to be rescheduled.  You were going to attend a dance with your boyfriend who you haven't seen in nearly six weeks.  That dance cannot happen and we don't know when you'll be able to see him.

That is what is so hard to watch for you, your friends and all other teens and young adults.  This is the age when you have big moments that can't be done over because they celebrate a distinct achievement, a particular point of time and age or a rite of passage.  There is nothing in our society that is particularly momentous about being 27 or 32 or 51 though ask someone about their teen years and there are stories, events, moments that could only happen during that age.

Yet, and yet, you have been the strongest, most reliable one in the house of five humans and one dog.  You have been diligent about your school work, take very seriously being engaged and present during Zoom class time and have stayed connected with friends via all those things you use (maybe that last one you were actually in-training for just this situation).  You have rowed every day on the erg your team loaned out.  You have, mostly, kept it together (hey, no one is perfect) and tried to stay positive through this.

Your happiness, the happiness you've had since you were born, keeps shining through.

That's what I hope you remember from this.  What your stories will be when you recount this time 40, 50, 60 years from now.

That you got through this with focus, determination, grit and happiness.

Happy Sweet 16.

I love you,
Mom





Thursday, August 22, 2019

Love, More

I return to this completely ignored space to acknowledge my twin boys' 19th birthday.  I'm still marveling that these 6'1" young men started off on August 22, 2000 as 30-week premies each weighing less than four pounds. In a week they head off to college.

Dear son,

The other day the boat had to be taken out of the water so it wouldn’t be buffeted about during high winds and incoming storms. It needed to be driven across the bay to a launch deep enough to accommodate the trailer. Your dad drove the truck and you were driving the boat. I hopped in with you.

That 20 minute ride was thrilling and humbling. Thrilling because it was fast and bumpy. The sun was shining and we were laughing. Humbling because driving a boat is a skill I don’t have. If we got in a predicament I’d have looked to you to figure out the next step. You were confident and knowledgeable.

This is the first of many things you’ll do on your own, skills you’ll gain without me, experiences that I will never hear about as you leave for college next week. I know you will move forward with purpose, learn and grow from your mistakes and make a difference.

I love you more than you will ever know.

Happy birthday little man.

Love,
Mom


Dear son,

Yet another article has come out about how oral health care has contributed to the overuse and abuse of opioids. Earlier this summer you had jaw surgery requiring an overnight stay at the hospital. You bleed for days. Yet you dealt with the crushing, mind-numbing pain with little more than ibuprofen and ice packs. You were begging to go back to work six days after the surgery despite not being able to chew or use a straw.

You are stronger than you give yourself credit. As you head off to college next week remember that strength. Remember how you overcame crushing pain and very bleak moments. Remember that you wanted to work while still in pain because it helped take your mind off it.

Life is going to be full of opportunities, challenges, pain and triumph. Your path isn’t going to be a straight course through a set of check boxes but you will figure it out. And it’ll be amazing to watch.

I love you more than you will understand.

Happy birthday little man.

Love,
Mom



Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Happy Birthday, Happiness

Dear Darling Daughter,

Well this got awkward.

You found my blog and have been reading your birthday letters.  So instead of being something I wrote that went out into the ether, this is now something you're going to read. In real time.

First off, happy birthday.  You start thinking about your next birthday the night of your current birthday (so tonight you will start planning for your 16th).  You truly enjoy birthdays and I hope you never lose that joy of having a day to celebrate you and all that you are.

But you should celebrate you every day (not with gifts, don't get greedy).  You personify resiliency.  You have shown great strength and perseverance since a young age and I continue to marvel at.

You started at a new school last fall.  You wanted to attend a co-ed school after three years at an all-girls school in part so you would have peers to look in the eye.  At 6'2" you were tired of being the tallest human being on campus and now have tall guys in the mix in your classes.

You also wanted to try rowing and this new school has a low-key team.  You walked into the boathouse the school uses and found other super tall people from other schools and programs.  You found a sport that celebrates your height that doesn't involve running (basketball) or jumping (volleyball) both which aggravates your knees.  Last month you tried out for a competitive club program and now row six days a week.  It's a level of intensity I didn't think you were ready for and once again you are showing strength and perseverance as you deal with really nasty blisters, throwing up after intense 2Ks on the erg, and sore muscles.

I shouldn't doubt you because you personify resiliency.

I hope you never doubt yourself.

Happy Birthday.

I love you,
Mom


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Love, More

I return to this completely ignored space to acknowledge my twin boys' 18th birthday.  I'm still marveling that these 6'1" young men started off on August 22, 2000 as 30-week premies each weighing less than four pounds.

Dear son,

Earlier this summer you wore your new suit and brown dress shoes to a family event and afterwards you went to the grocery store where you work to finish up a training.  You got out of the car and were walking through the parking lot when a woman flagged you down.  She came up to you and said "Congressman, I need to talk to you." It took you a minute to understand what was going on.  You stopped her and explained you were in high school and were heading into your job at the grocery store.

She thought you were Congressman Joe Kennedy.

Needless to say when you called to tell me the story you were over the moon.  You are the definition of a political junkie.  You are fascinated with elections, polls and policy debates.  You read books by former White House chiefs of staff and want to discuss them. 

When you were younger I would tell you to use your powers for good.  You have always had a presence that people noticed and apparently you carry yourself like a Congressman.  As you move into adulthood please use your powers for good in whatever you do.

I know you will.

I love you.

Happy Birthday to my Big Man,
Mom


*******

Dear Son,

Your rugby coaches say you are one of the few guys on the team who thinks several plays ahead.  You describe it as if you are over the pitch and can see the plays from up above.  Your ability to think about systems or next steps amazes me because I don't often think that way.  

You are still thinking through next steps as you go into your final year of high school.  You're young, strong and have years of experience from working in the grocery store and for landscapers.  You talk about owning your own business, being the one responsible for everything, and I have no doubt you will do it well.

Often you talk at the dinner table about people's lives.  Your co-workers feel comfortable telling you what is happening to them (one former manager texted you after you stopped working with him to tell you his wife is pregnant) and even giving you nicknames (such as a Salvadorian pop singer because of you wear headphones and sing while you work).  Ever since you were little you noticed people and their concerns.  I hope you will care for and support the people who work for you.

I know you will.

I love you.

Happy Birthday to my Big Man,
Mom