Small moments

Elegant_Sparklers

A few weeks ago, I was out at the playground with my two kids. They were playing together, while I sat on a bench and stared off into space (a favorite pastime of mine). A little boy, who may have been about two, came over to me and started babbling. He put his hands on my knees and acted very familiar with me. I started feeling really uncomfortable and also like the parent would not be happy seeing me so close to their kid.

My two sons saw my distress and came over, and I asked them to play with him. They tried, but he would not leave me. I asked him where his parents were, and started to look around. About ten minutes later, a man came over and stopped when he saw me.

“Is he yours?” I asked.

“Yes.” He tried to take the kid’s hand, but the boy slapped him away. “Sorry, you look like his mother, who died last month.”

I was too stunned to say anything, and the man walked away, leaving me with his son. He had given me no guidance as to how to act, and generally parents frown on a stranger even touching their kid. My kids eventually got him to play, but he kept coming over to talk to me (I couldn’t understand anything) and trying to pat my hair. I let my hand rest on his shoulder, but the dad wouldn’t meet my eye, so I don’t know if he approved or not. I also let my kids play in the park for roughly two hours, because I didn’t want this kid to see me leave. I also hope that seeing me did not scar the kid somehow further.

If you can stand it, here is another emotional incident! Last week I was at the grocery store getting some things for my son’s seventh birthday party (how did that happen?). I was in the aisle that has decorative plates and whatnot, and a woman in her 70s was also there. She held up a black plate with a picture of a purple birthday cake on it, and asked me if I thought it was “too girly” for her son, who was turning 31.

Now, I’m not the type to start talking with an older woman about gender norms, especially when she was just trying to be sensitive to her son and do a nice thing, so just I told her I thought it was fine. We started talking about candle choices, and I convinced her to get the same ones I got for my son, which were sparkler candles (Note: They weren’t as spectacular as the packaging would lead you to believe, but still pretty cool.)

We talked about our respective “kids” for a few minutes, and she gave another glance toward the paper products and asked, “Do you really think it’s okay?” I told her that if my mother had been alive to celebrate my 31st birthday with me, not to mention being thoughtful enough to contemplate whether the decorations would please me or not, I would have been so grateful. We hugged and then I went to sit in my car and cry for a good ten minutes. And then I pulled myself together and continued being a mom.

I rarely use this blog to write something depressing or overly personal and I’m only doing now in the hopes that I’ll feel some sort of catharsis when I’m done writing.

What do birthdays mean to an adult? Maybe nothing. After I turned 18, I think mine all kind of sucked. Were my expectations too high? I don’t know. As I’m much older now, I’ve thought about what I wanted from a birthday, and it’s this: at least a few people around me who I know want to be around me, some type of baked good that was made or purchased by someone other than me, and a wrapped gift (that doesn’t need to have cost any money [it could have been handmade or whatever (the wrapping is important though because it indicates thoughtfulness)]). This year, I didn’t have any of that. I was disappointed, of course, but my kids are too young to do anything, or remember on their own, so it was easy to dismiss. Whatever, I’m an adult, so I didn’t have the birthday I wanted. Maybe no one does. Just because my expectations may be lower than some doesn’t mean I’m going to get what I want.

Anyhow, this post isn’t about that. Tomorrow is my younger son’s first birthday. When my older son turned one, a ton of friends and family came. It was an amazing day that I still remember in vivid detail, even though he doesn’t. I know my younger son will never remember his first birthday either, which is fortunate because every person I invited declined. All with valid reasons, but they all declined. My sweet baby’s birthday will be celebrated with zero guests. Everyone who has declined says “Don’t take it personally.” Of course, I should be able to not take it personally. And I know that no one loves my son as much as I do, so it feels extremely painful to me, when to everyone else it’s no big deal. And no, I don’t want to remember this day as the day my beautiful son turned one and I cried myself to sleep because I don’t think there are enough loving people in his life.

But I cannot help how I feel and how I feel is just miserable.