I can't believe my Mom is 70. She looks 20 years younger. Of course she does a lot to protect her skin. She's been slathering on moisturizer for decades and she avoids the sun. Not only does she baste herself in sunblock but she stays in the shade and even in the car will hold a newspaper up to block out the sun if there isn't a blind on the window. I tried explaining to her that when you're wearing SPF 60, the sun is not getting through but she doesn't want to take any chances. I do have to hand it to her. People never guess her age. Maybe it runs in the family though because my sister looks younger than she is and I was still getting asked for I.D. a year ago. (Even at the casino where you only have to be 18!)
It was a challenge preparing for the party. Transporting three large balloon bouquets and a baby home in the middle of the night was a surreal experience. I was starving at the time and tempted to pick up McDonalds but thought better of it. I would have looked like a circus act! Besides I was anxious to get home. Michelle was being good but was staring at the balloons on either side of her as though they were aliens from outer space. It must seem strange to her when these unusual objects suddenly invade her world. One night she went to sleep and woke up the next day to find a white Christmas tree in her living room. Then the kitchen and living room are filled with balloons. She seemed to take it in stride. The cat wasn't too impressed though. Cats don't like change. Aside from the balloons I had also moved a bunch of chairs into the kitchen to make more seating room for the party.
I had hosted Mom's birthday party last year, of course that was before I was pregnant, or rather, before I knew I was pregnant. Ironically, as I've mentioned in previous blogs, it was on the evening of my Mom's birthday party that Mike (my baby's father) was kidding around and stuck a silver balloon under my shirt like a pregnant belly. Six days later I would find out I was pregnant. You would think I'd be afraid of balloons now! Actually they do scare me a little. I'm always afraid they'll pop.
Michelle had been talking up a storm in babyspeak and my sister suggested I take a video of her "talking." I'd taken so many photos of her but hadn't done much video. Of course as soon as I turned the video camera on her, she clammed up. "Show Mommy how you can talk...Say something sweetie..." And not a peep. Just staring at me wide-eyed every time I tried. I did manage to get a few tiny clips of her making little sounds and put it together in a video. It will be interesting to look back on it someday and remember these days before she could talk. I can't wait until she says her first words.
Michelle has started trying to communicate in ways other than crying (which is a welcome change!) Now when she's hungry she says "Uh uh uh." Always like that. A "u" sound in a group of three. I mimick her which she finds funny and smiles a big smile. Everytime she does that I feed her right away and she seems happy which is awesome. One less thing to cry about! Now if she could make different sounds for when she needs to be changed, when she's tired or for anything else she wants or needs, we'd be all set! She does seem eager to communicate so I hope she's talking soon. I always try to imitate the sounds she makes so that she feels like we're having a conversation. It always makes her smile.
Mom is a proud Grandma to seven grandchildren now. She's thrilled with Michelle, unexpected lucky number 7. She didn't think there would be any more grandchildren since my siblings with children didn't plan to have any more and neither my brother Chris nor I ever planned to have any. My Mom was concerned that I would regret it someday if I never had children, that I would feel I had missed out. I don't know if I would have. How can you miss something you never had? I couldn't picture me as a Mom. I didn't think I had it in me. Of course everything changed once I found out I was pregnant. My maternal instincts took over. I loved my baby from the very beginning. Before she was even born and now I know she is the best thing that's ever happened to me. I still can't believe I got pregnant so easily at 42 but I know that it was meant to be. Someone told me that they know several women who have become pregnant in their 40s. It's almost like a sudden burst of fertility takes over. It's as though the biological clock is ticking, the body knows it's running out of time so it kicks things up a notch. The body's last hurrah. I know that I was healthier than I had ever been. Eating right and exercising. So I guess it was the perfect time for a baby to make an appearance. Little did I know.
When the party was over and after I finally got Michelle settled down I went to tidy up. There were chip crumbs everywhere, cake remnants on the floor, the table (even under the glass table that I'd covered with a tablecloth) and chairs, bits of crayon smushed on the hardwood, crumbs in the couch. I smiled. Kids are exhausting. They are messy. They can be wild (I was afraid at a few points that my nieces and nephews were going to spill something or break something -- it's happened before -- and they were trying to play with Michelle's swing and jumperoo.) But they are so full of energy and excitement. They're so free. They're not uptight and stressed out like me. I wish I was a little more laid back. I tend to be a bit of a control freak. I hope I'm able to relax enough to give Michelle room to explore without worrying and nagging. I don't want to be a Mom who worries about everything and who says "No" to everything. I know I hated it when Mom said "No" so much (and apparently it wound up being my first word!) I will probably have to kid-proof the house a lot more before Michelle is on the move. She's already trying to crawl (rolling onto her tummy and lifting her butt up like an inchworm trying to scooch along the floor). Who knows when she'll be walking? I want to give her a taste of freedom and independence while still keeping her safe. It's a tough balance as a parent. You don't want to be too strict or too lenient. You don't want to be a nag or a pushover. At least there is only one of her. I don't know how people manage with several small children!
I love my big crazy family, even though at times they can be overwhelming. I feel blessed to have them in my life. I am especially grateful to Mom and Dad for bringing us into the world. Mom was feeling very sentimental while she was reading her cards and started to tear up. I've always been a sap and am even more so these days with my breastfeeding hormones raging. I started to cry when I picked out Mom's birthday card. It talked about being a Mom -- being the first voice that your child hears, the first face that they see, the first pair of arms that hold them. There is nothing on the planet more difficult or more incredible than being a Mom. One woman that I ran into recently said that she believes having children is something that every woman should experience. As a woman it is the most extraordinary experience you can have. I agree. I never expected it for myself but I am so grateful. It is the greatest gift.
I will try to be the best Mom I can be. I won't always be perfect. I won't always be patient. I won't always have the right answers. But I will always always love her. My Mom wasn't perfect but I am so grateful to her for all that she's done for me. It wasn't until having my own child that I could fully appreciate and understand what being a Mom means.