Tomorrow, we will celebrate our first-born child’s 40th birthday. It seems almost impossible to imagine that fact is reality, but there’s no denying it … nor the corollary − that her daddy is considerably past his 40th birthday! (Okay, if I must admit it, me too.) How, I ask myself, is this possible?
I posted a poem here about my early days mothering this beautiful, strong-willed child. She was born in Dallas, a Texan through and through. Because I carried my babies longer than most, she was delivered on May 31 … my due date was May 12. (Back then, inducing was rare.) She weighed a hefty 10 pounds, 8 ounces! Like most parents, she gave us plenty of moments when we puffed out our chests with pride … and likewise, there were the troubling moments with many tears shed and serious questions about how her future would turn out.
We should not have doubted or worried. Today, she is a lovely and poised woman, wife to a fine man and mother to four living children. (I posted here about her child who died in utero.) She is a business woman in process of starting her own company. (Without being too cryptic, I’ll one day share more about her. I suspect the details will offer comfort and hope to other parents.)
Ah, she’s all grown up now!
Author J. M. Barrie‘s story of Peter Pan resonates with me, in part I think, because my parents took my brothers and me to the summertime outdoor opera (St. Louis Municipal Opera) that presented the story. (Years later, it was shown on tv many times.) Though we attended other productions, Peter Pan was my personal favorite.
Two songs from the production seemed to be written just for me: I Won’t Grow Up and I’m Flying. Both songs stroked my imagination with the defiant possibility of approaching reality in a completely unconventional way. (Watching a female in the title role … Mary Martin, Sandy Duncan, Cathy Rigby … didn’t hurt either. Their performances facilitated my ability to identify with them. A deep, bellowing voice would never have been believable to me.) If anyone is inclined to take a stroll down memory lane, there’s a YouTube video running the entire 1960 production, starring Mary Martin.
Alas, Peter Pan was the only child who didn’t grow up. Wendy and Peter and John, me and my Beloved and our offspring eventually grew into adulthood. There’s a passage in the book where Barrie notes:
“All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.”
I don’t remember having that realization when I was two (late bloomer?). I’m not even sure I realized it the day I married. But when my delightful eldest daughter was born, I suddenly knew I must grow up. And now, in like fashion, my daughter has done the same.