Leading up to a snowy New Year’s Eve like this it’s all you need: a glass of wine for yourself and a little sweater for the baby.
This girl on the left is my first child, born the last hour of the last day of that Big Bicentennial year. It’s her birthday today.
She came with me to an Elton John concert in July of that year, though she was incognito at the time, just the mere suggestion of a person, hiding under my ’70s style floor-flower-child dress.
She has come with me on many adventures. I stopped teaching just a week before her birth so she came with me through the whole alphabet and all the songs on both the Sesame Street AND the MisterRogers albums. She was practically reciting the Preamble to the Constitution before it dawned on me that really I wasn’t actually in the classroom anymore so we could probably take things a little easier than I had done in the years of the lesson plans.
She came with me when we joined that food co-op the summer she I was a vegetarian. and immediately got lost, clumping off in her little white baby shoes and tucking herself under this vast plastic rice bin mounted to one of the walls, I remember that like it was yesterday. I was so traumatized I never went back there again.
The years passed. I started learning what codependency was when she was 14 and told her everything I was learning as I was learning it. It was the end of a long period in my life when I was always trying to save people, save the whole known world, but thank God a friend clued me in on the fact that there was a name for this behavior that appears so predictably in children who grow up in a house where an alcoholic parent figure reside, (or in my case had resided. The friend was actually one of my former students, by then in recovery himself, who explain to me how all this worked and when my eyes opened they opened the whole way, so wide that one day in the car I said to this 14-year-old, “Carr, I’m afraid I haven’t modeled very healthy behavior for you with all my crazy rescuing attempts.
“It’s fine,” she said kindly, acknowledging in that small sweet way the truth of the matter. “I think I’m turning out OK.”
And she was fine and she did turn out OK, more than OK, in fact Even now, anytime I need a quick refresher on boundary issues, she provides it for me right quick.
I may not see her on this her birthday – as a mother of three young children, she’s pretty booked today; but I will surely think of her: the way she looked as a baby, and the way she looked as a six-year-old below and wish her many great years of looking after her own dear ones when the days are warm and coming into the room when days are cold with a glass of wine and a tiny sweater.