Monday, March 11, 2013 was a special day for a few reasons:
The March new moon.
The first day of Deepak Chopra’s and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge.
…and the most important reason: It was my birthday!
I’m a bit obnoxious about every birthday, but this one was more special than all the others for me. Not only was I turning 33 on 3/11, but I was turning the same age my mother was when she gave birth to me. I feel like, if nothing else, me being here is a living, breathing middle finger to all the people consumed with my biological clock and eggs. My mother had me “late,” and things turned out just fine. Stop sweating my eggs.
I thought a lot about me being 33 and how different life must have been for my mother at the same age. Here I am single, childless, living in a studio apartment, working in a cubicle four or five days a week. My mother had already been a wife for many years, mother to my brother who is 10 years older than me and a homemaker. It would have been cool to celebrate the entirety of my life with the woman who’d known me exactly half of hers. I didn’t get that opportunity to be in the 33 spot with my mother, but what I did get in these last few years was a chance to watch my mother rewind through old life cycles. The same way she watched me grow up, I watched her grow back and away.
I never talked about it before, this rewind, because a lot of times it was hard to watch. I know that we all grow old the second we shoot or slide into this world, but I was so hyper-aware of it watching my mother. I still have nightmares sometimes. All the memories aren’t bad, though; some are pleasant.
Like, watching my mother in what I call her “young adult years”. In 2006, she moved into her first apartment alone. She’d been living with people all her life, first as a daughter/granddaughter/sister and then as a wife and mother. She moved into a senior living complex and she loved her balcony. I don’t remember her ever sitting out there, but she loved it. That’s where her plants sat and she loved plants.
By 2006, I was an old pro at living alone. I’d been living on my own since college. I was worried maybe my mom wouldn’t like it. I know she got lonely, but she told me she liked having her own space. She watched sitcoms and game shows on television, made Cream of Wheat for breakfast. Sometimes, she even had “company” over. Mmm hmmm, now we go into the “teenage years”.
I remember I was taking my mom to America’s Best to get some new glasses and when we got there she said she wanted contacts. Contacts?! In all the years I’d known her, my mama never wore contacts. She was squeamish when she finally bought me MY first pair from America’s Best. At first, I was trying to talk her out of it. “Why do YOU want contacts? Are you even gonna wear them?” She was serious. Something in me switched and I had to take a step back. If she wants contacts, let her have contacts. So, I bought her contacts.
My mother loved listening to Motown oldies, but during her “teenage years” she fell in love with R. Kelly, Usher and John Legend. At the time, I wasn’t a fan of Usher and Confessions would drive me up the wall! I guess I’m partially to blame because I bought her the CD/DVD boxset. She played it nonstop, along with John’s Get Lifted and pretty much anything R. Kelly… Happy People,You Saved Me, Trapped in the Closet…she even had the Light It Up Tour on DVD!
I pulled the greatest surprise on her of all time and took her to a John Legend show with some of my girlfriends. Our table was right in front of the stage and she was in heaven. After the show, my mama offered John her couch that let out into a sofabed.
She got reconnected with her high school sweetheart, Chandler, and started asking about push-up bras and texting. The texting was cute. Like, who you think you texting? And how come you don’t text me? LOL…I wonder if she ever really got to be a teenager.
Looking back, the “teenage years” weren’t so bad. I kind of wish they lasted longer. It was probably the last period when things were “normal”, before the “childhood/baby years”. It’s interesting: Parents love watching their baby take his or her first steps and the falling down is expected, sometimes even cute and funny. When you’re a child watching your parent take shaky steps, the falling is scary.
It was sporadic at first. She’d be a little unstable when she walked and then the falls started happening. To this day, it freaks me out when I’m walking and I see people trip on the sidewalk. I always worry they’re gonna fall. I don’t like to see people fall. In 2009, she fell in her apartment and blood clotted in her brain. She had brain surgery and not only lived to tell about it, but she learned to walk, talk and write again. And I discovered she had the memory of an elephant! Who has brain surgery, goes through months of rehabilitation, finally makes it back home and can look around and ask where I moved something? My mama! It was unbelievable.
She survived that, but things would never be the same. Sometimes, she needed help getting dressed, or going to the bathroom. For someone that’s never had children before, it was a new experience for me. I always prayed God would give me more compassion and patience. I got some, but I don’t think it was enough. I didn’t like this part of the life cycle. The days were going forward, but it didn’t feel like I was seeing her get older, she was getting younger. Like a baby, she needed 24-hour care. I don’t feel comfortable with babies.
At some point, there weren’t any more “years” to go through. She returned back to God and now there’s just memories of the woman she was and hopes for the woman I may become. This is 33 for me.