Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Day I Grew Up

I was just on the phone with my dear Mr. R, excited that he will be home tomorrow night. (note to self, you need to shave!). We were discussing James, the alcoholic friend from a few posts back. Angie got accepted to UCF, and he is not even happy for her, and it hurts me for her. Anyway, Mr. R. asked me if I can remember the day when I realized I stepped from childhood to adulthood. And yes, I remember the exact day. It was my 21st birthday, waaaaay back in 1996.

Anyone who knows me, knows I was married when I was 19, and had Missy when I was 20. After all, getting married and having a baby are both very adult things! So why was my 21st so memorable for me? One, I had lost most of my baby weight and was looking like a foxy 21 yr old again, for starters. Two, even though I was married and had a baby, I still did a lot of selfish things. The night of my 21st birthday would be no exception. Even though Mr. R wanted me to stay home and celebrate with him with a home-cooked meal and some quiet time after Missy went to bed, I wanted to go out with my friends. I made plans to go clubbing with Carolyn. Her 21st birthday had been two months prior, and were dying to go out and party. Missy had been stuffy and slightly feverish for a few days. Not majorly sick, but enough that she was miserable and grouchy. Oooh, my favorite kind of baby...NOT! But I put her needs aside (this makes my heart break even thinking about not considering her feelings, but that is how I was back then) and told Mr. R to take care of Missy so I could go out dancing.
I got all dressed up. I wore my tightest jeans, my lowest cut legal shirt, comfy shoes for dancing, did my hair, and my makeup. I probably looked like a hooker. I picked up Missy, gave her a hug, and told her I would see her later. Missy was about 10 months old, and already knew that if Mama had her shoes on, Mama was leaving the house. So she started to cry. I propped her head up on my shoulder, and rubbed her back, trying to comfort her so I could get the heck out of this house. That was when she decided to throw up right down my back, getting chunks of ick in my hair, on my shirt, even on my jeans.
Absolutely defeated, I called Carolyn to cancel. Carolyn was not happy with me at all. She snapped, "Can't xxxx take care of her?" To my own shock, I replied that when Missy is sick, its my job to take care of her. "Whatever!" Carolyn snapped and hung up on me. Mr. R took Missy to give her a bath in the sink while I hopped in the shower to get the formula chunks out of my hair. Halfway through my shower, Mr. R knocked on the door.
"What?!?!?!" I screeched. (I know...what a delicate flower I am.)
"Missy wants YOU, not me!" he hollered back.
Sigh. "Ok, bring her in."
I quickly rinsed off, then sat down in the tub, put the plug in, and filled the tub while Missy sat on my lap. Her desperate sobs started to fade. She looked up at me and gave me a weak, quavery smile while her eyes were still filled with unshed tears. I smiled back at her, held her tight (mostly out of love, but also because she was a wet slippery baby and I was a wet slippery mama) and proceeded to give her a little bath. We played with a few toys, and then we both got out of the tub. I wrapped her up in a nice fluffy towel, then called for Mr. R to come and grab her so I could put a towel on myself. I dried off, got dressed super quick, and then grabbed Missy again and put her in a fresh diaper, and her softest pajamas. Her arms reached for me again as I was done dressing her, and my heart just suddenly filled with this immense joy and wonder. My baby. This is MY BABY and I'm taking care of her. All I could do was look at her. Her soft brown hair. Her huge hazel eyes. Her pouty lips, and big chubby cheeks. Little fingers, and little toes, arms wrapped around my neck as she held on as tight as a 10 month old baby can. I imagine she was thinking, "Don't leave me, Mama. I need you!"
I must have been deep in thought, as Mr. R broke in and said, "Sarah. Dinner's ready. Are you hungry?"
"Sure, honey. I'll be right there."
I don't remember what we ate, or what we talked about, if anything. I ate with my right hand, and held Missy with my left. She drank her bottle of water (no more formula since she already threw up) and fell asleep contentedly in the crook of my arm. After she had been in my lap for about an hour, Mr. R picked her up and put her in the crib. I stood over her and watched my sweet baby sleep. Thinking about how I couldn't believe she was my baby. MY BABY. God gave her to me and I was going to ditch her for a night of clubbing with my friend. I vowed, standing over her crib, that I would never choose stupid stuff over her again. I have not been out clubbing since then. I have been home almost every night since that night, almost 12 years ago. I have also added to my joy, as Missy has two younger brothers. I hope to continue to add to that joy.
Becoming a wife, and becoming a mother, were the best things that ever happened to me. It was only when I took those occupations seriously, that I began to reap happiness out of them.
My 21st birthday was my first day as a true grownup.

PS. That is Missy's picture, back when she was about 4 months old. Doesn't Miriam take beautiful pictures?

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