Tuesday, November 19, 2013


"This is how it is with your children, she thought. You hold all the versions of them there ever were simultaneously in your heart." --Sue Miller

The weekend before last, all three of our kids were home. The two from out of town arrived by surprise  Friday night. They had come to help us celebrate our birthdays. The surprise visit involved a lot of planning and texting (and lying), but they pulled it off. We were completely unsuspecting and thoroughly surprised. It was the perfect present: we laughed and talked and ate and played games. And what Sue Miller's character says in the above quote was so true. As we sat around the table at the restaurant or in the dining room playing cards, I'd watch these grown-up kids of mine signing credit card slips, giving advice about grad school and teaching, and sharing plans for the end-of-student-teaching gifts, and I would also see an eight-year-old perched on a counter stool making an elaborate cardboard-paper-glitter present, a seven-year-old playing school with his brother and all the stuffed animals, and a six-year-old saving money in a little safe in the corner of his bedroom. It happens all the time--you see a twinkle in an eye, a stubborn look on a face, a familiar habit or gesture, and in that instant, the past telescopes itself and you see all the versions of themselves your children have ever been. Today at 4:33, my oldest child will turn twenty-seven years old, and for the first time, my parenting years will outnumber my non-parenting years. For me, birthdays have always been a time for looking back, for remembering each age and stage, but lately they have also become a time for looking ahead, for imagining all the versions of my kids that are yet to be.

Happy Birthday, Ben!

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