Thirteen is an important year, a milestone.
Cotter, my son, reached that milestone this past weekend. Michael and I took him to lunch and had a day dedicated to Cotter. Came home and got ready for dinner and presents. Tradition in our house, when it’s your birthday Dad makes your favorite meal.
Cotter is not a simple young man so he asked for Cioppino (shellfish stew) for his birthday. As we were getting ready for the festivities Cotter told me he was not feeling well, something he ate at lunch was not sitting well. By the time we sat down to eat he looked grey and could barely sit up, let alone eat anything.
To make a long story short, Cotter spent the evening of his 13th Birthday throwing up. He hates to throw up, not that anyone enjoys it, but this child really hates it. He was so weak when he was done, he barely looked at his presents. I offered cold face cloths and lots of hugs. He was really upset.
Tough night and a tough way to welcome your 13th year. I felt really bad for him. There was nothing I could do to help him or make his evening better. All I could do was make him comfortable and accept that his birthday, while memorable, was ruined.
After he was in bed, I was rambling to Michael, my husband, about how disappointed he must be and maybe we should have his birthday on another day. Maybe we could just do the whole thing over when he was feeling better. “It’s just not the way I wanted his birthday to be.”
He listened and said, “Tracy, it’s over and it was a bust. There’s nothing you can do about it. It just happened, you don’t get to redo it. He definitely won’t forget this birthday.” He laughed and turned out the light.
Hmmm…it just didn’t work out and there was nothing I could do about it. As my children get older I’m starting to look at this idea a little more closely and I’m not liking it.
Life will happen to them. Sometimes things will not work out or will be disappointing and there won’t be a damn thing I can do about it.
This is, hands down, the hardest part of parenting for me. Letting go and realizing that every birthday will not be perfect, hearts will be broken, tests will be failed, jobs will be lost and sad things will happen.
All I can do is give them the tools for a great party, hope for the best and if things don’t work out…wipe tears, kiss foreheads and send them back out.
Incredibly humbling work, being a parent. That’s all from the laundry room.