A New Birthday, an Old Memory

The social media learning curve is a frightening thing.

When I first started blogging I was un-fucking-guarded. I held nothing back, and my colleagues read the blog and were offended.

And I started to watch my tongue–but I’m still sort of opinionated, and then my readers were offended.

And then the whole getting pulled from school thing happened, and I wasn’t allowed to blog about some things, and I got very canny at compartmentalization–but I still have opinions, and I’m often classically oblivious to who’s going to be offended, and I don’t like to fight. I have ceased to see the win in screaming at someone who is screaming in my face. There are other ways to deal with things–dog piles online have always struck me as mob mentality, and after participating in a few, I have made it a policy to back away. 

And when I saw the venom that could be aimed at somebody with an unpopular opinion, well, let’s just say that more and more I backed the truly personal things out of my online musings. The internet is no place for an opinion. It’s why I tell people not to follow me on Twitter unless they want to see me ranting about political stuff. It’s pretty much screaming into the void at this point–nobody really listens there. (Also kitten videos. The dichotomy is terrifying.)

But tonight, Squish came out and said, “Did we ever eat ice cream in a castle? I have this memory of eating ice cream in a castle with tarps everywhere.”

And I said, “Hey– that sounds like Fairy Tale Town,” and I looked it up on the blog and read about the last time we went. We were charmed, and I remembered why I started the blog in the first place–as sort of a record of family life. 

Which brings me to wishing my oldest child Happy Birthday.

Big T is 28 today–which is stunning. I’m boggled. I remember looking at him–after they got him breathing of course–and thinking, “I am going to grow old in a heartbeat watching you grow up.”

And that’s pretty much how it happened. Mate and I are now Grinch-old–53 years old, for those who watch the classic cartoon–and Big T is now a promising, handsome young man. (Although I do feel myself channeling my grandmother–the one who was a piece of work, not the one who used to tell me stories from working in the OSS–and wishing he’d cut his hair.) But T will be graduating from college at the end of June–when his teachers said he MIGHT be able to read by the time he hit high school. He’s living with a wonderful young woman–when he worried that he’d never be able to get people to see him for what was in his heart and not all the things he has trouble saying. And he’s learning to drive, when I thought that was something he would NEVER be able to do.

So he came over with his girlfriend, and Chicken came over too. Chicken was giving T his presents and getting her sweater. I was going to wrap it, but she tried it on and almost burst into tears because she needed a mom-sweater so badly. Totally worth throwing together an emergency mom sweater the month before Christmas–sometimes people just need that long-term hug.

We didn’t do anything exciting. We watched Muppet Christmas Carol and decorated the tree and bought Papa Murphy’s Pizza (which is exciting because Mate and I don’t do pizza like we used to so the teenagers were thrilled!) and ate cake.

And it was the same thing I’ve been reporting on the blog for getting close to fifteen years now, and normally it would be the most mundane thing in the world.

But this year has been so frightening. We all know it. Part of the reason I’ve eased up on the blogging is that my personal musings have grown dark and I don’t want to share the darkness. I know how badly we all need the light.

Well, I needed the light today, and my family provided. I was feeling empty and now I”m feeling full. (But my family is all keeping its distance–that could be the pizza. We are all aware.)

In all seriousness, I usually cry at movies or TV shows at the drop of the hat, but two nights ago, I was just… too wrung out by real life to cry. And that worried me. Empathy is so important–and we are all running so low right now.

Tonight after the kids left, Mate and I watched old-people’s TV and saw back to back episodes of Call the Midwife, and I was sobbing like a baby at the end of the second one. (Mate generously offered to show me Peppermint as a cure all for the sobbing, and it worked. Let’s hear it for bad guys meeting grisly deaths and big explosions. Sometimes we need shit to go boom.)

There is still good in the world, and the internet can still be a place of joy. And my son is living a good life, and I can still cry at movies. 

And there is still happiness here. And still light. And I can count my blessings every damned day and cry at all I’ve been given. 

My children, my Mate (who did a lot of the birthday party work today–I was surprised and so pleased), and my writing–I have an embarrassment of riches, and I need to remember to share. 

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