To My Son on His 18th Birthday!
Today you officially become a man in the eyes of the law. Eighteen. Responsible. Able to vote.
Today I become the parent of an adult. Seems like just yesterday I held you in my arms for the first time.
When your father and I married, all I wanted was to start a family right away. I wanted nothing more than to be a mother, than to have someone be the center of my world, someone I could dote on and fuss over and love to distraction.
I knew I was pregnant way before it was time to do a pregnancy test. I felt different. There was no way to put my finger on what exactly felt different, but I knew you were on your way. Your father was about to leave for a basketball game (I think) on the Thursday night I decided it was time to take a pregnancy test. He stayed home to keep me company while we waited for the pregnancy test to tell us our fate. Your father didn’t want me to get my hopes up, but I already knew what the test was going to say.
When those interminable three minutes were up and we saw two lines – which meant YES we were pregnant – we both cried. Our lives were about to change – we had no clue by how much! We followed the tradition of saying nothing until the end of the third month, and it was the hardest secret to keep. We didn’t even tell our parents until then. On both sides you were to be the first grandchild and great grandchild, so when we did finally break the news there was so much excitement.
Being young and in good shape, my pregnancy didn’t start to show till about the sixth month. I wanted to be in maternity clothes from the first minute – I wanted the world to know you were on your way. By the end of the pregnancy my belly was gigantic. I gained weight nowhere else, just had this huge beach ball belly.
Your due date came and went. We went on long hikes, ate spicy food, did all the tricks the books (yes, not Google, not back then) said to do – to no avail. You were only going to be born when you were good and ready.
Finally on July 18th in the wee hours the contractions started. We went for a walk at 4 am to continue to get things moving, I took a hot bath, and finally around 9 am we headed to the hospital. And after an hour my contractions stopped. Because I was already ten days overdue, they didn’t send me home but gave me some pitocin to get things moving along. You were stubborn even back then. By 10 pm there wasn’t much change, and they gave me something to help me sleep so that I could have some energy to get through the next day and the birth. They showed us into a hospital room, and asked your father if he wanted to sleep in the same bed as me (yeah, the narrow hospital bed) and it struck us as extremely funny at the time. Laughing when you are in pain is a weird experience.
I did sleep. The rest of the next day passed very very slowly. I almost smacked the obstetrician (Dr Cleve Ziegler) who was delivering you. At 4 pm (4 hours before you were born) when I started pushing, he made a joke about me being British, and needing to stop for tea and cucumber sandwiches. It took me hours to push you out – who knew you’d have such a big gigantic head!! I also yelled at your father that he would never ever touch me again as long as I lived. One child would be enough. There was no way I would ever willingly go through this painful hell again. Ever. (Yeah. I know. Your brother was born 13 months later, but let’s not go there now).
Just before 8 pm with a little help from some forceps (they look like salad tongs) you were pulled kicking and screaming into this world. Healthy and crying, ten fingers, ten toes, 6 lbs 11 oz, 21 inches long. You were the most breathtaking sight I had ever seen.
The nurses cleaned you up, and placed you in my arms, and I fell head over heels in love. Your father and I were both in awe of this miracle that had come into our lives. Within an hour both grandmothers were in our hospital room vying for the right to be the first to hold you, and I watched them fall in love with you. I watched them cry tears of happiness and joy, as they celebrated the next generation.
Eighteen years have passed in the blink of an eye – a very emotional eye! Here you are, tall, handsome, big and strong, about to set off on the adventure of your life. It has been an honour and a privilege to be your mom for the past 18 years. To raise you (and your brothers) and to teach you, to love you and to hold you, to wipe your tears and celebrate your triumphs. In a few short weeks you are off to live your life in Israel, and while I will always be your mother, there will be many moments that I won’t share in, but memories that you are making for yourself.
That moment when I first held you I wished the world for you. I wanted life to be good to you, and for you to have a chance to live your own dream. This mom’s wish is coming true. Son, I am so proud of you, and I always will be.
Happy Eighteenth Birthday, Aryeh. With more love than you can ever imagine – Ima. xoxo