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Tomorrow is the 38th birthday of my youngest child…”my baby”..How he hates to hear me refer to him in that way.  It is amazing to me that time has gone by so rapidly.  At 24 I was the mother of 4 kids under the age of 5!  And to think I survived those years is amazing.

As the youngest, he was also the “feistiest” of the bunch.  You had to be if you wanted to be heard.  He spent the first 12 months basically attached to my hip while I wiped peanut butter and jelly from upturned  faces, changed diapers, loaded the washing machine,  mediated arguments, picked up toys, made beds,  read stories,  and tried to keep a semblance of order in our little corner of the world.

At 13 months he learned to escape his playpen and get out of his crib.  He was showing us early on that he was not to be restricted by boundaries, real or imagined.  He taught himself how to swim at 3 and learned to ride a two wheel bike by the age of 4.  His vocabulary mirrored mine although he spoke with a lisp and had trouble with his R’s and W’s.  “Fucky Fwied Chicken” was his special treat and he was not shy about screeching his pleasures from the top of his lungs.

He learned to read before going to school and could do his numbers and letters with ease since he copied the older kids’ work.  For awhile he insisted on wearing his red “popcorn” sweater even in the sweltering heat.    To this day there is still no adequate explanation.

He would get on his Big Wheel every morning and pay visits to the neighbors out doing yard work.  Apparently he loved nothing more than to repeat everything I said for their amusement.  In his baby world, I was without peer!

They had to drag him off me the first day of Kindergarten.    Our mutual time together had come to a fork in the road.    He and I both knew that he was no longer my “baby” but a boy on his way to adulthood where “ Mommy” was transformed into “Mom” and our roles were slowly evolving.

He played sports but was never spectacular.  He was dutiful and earnest, but he was never going to set the world on fire through athletics.  He accompanied me to polling booths and learned how to move the lever for the Democrats.    In school they wanted to move him up a grade because he was bright but I resisted since I knew he was not emotionally ready and he never knew that.  He loved to read and his favorite was the “Little House on the Prairie” set he borrowed from his sister.    He denies that today but it is a fact.

I can still see him in his soccer or baseball uniforms.  His layers of winter clothes.  His altar boy garb.  His Cub Scout attire.  His cowboy outfit and little boots.  His silly school pictures.    His Halloween costumes.  His graduation pictures.  His wedding day.  All memories tucked away in the “Randy file”.

His world was torn apart when his father left.  The grief was evident on his face.  A child of 12 whose sense of security was being yanked from his hands and out of his control had to hurt.  A wound was formed but not ever completely cauterized.    I wish I could restore that but I am unable to bring it back.

At 16 he was hired into his first job as a “bag boy” in a local market.  He learned how to manage money and saved up for his first car.  He bought his own clothes and put money away for college.  At 18 he left home and joined the ranks of many other undergrads just feeling their own way for the first time.    Weekend visits consisted mostly of laundry and time for friends.    Mom was just someone who occupied the homestead during his absence.   At 24 he left for Boston, basically never to return.  He met a nice girl from Lexington and a few years later they were married.  His home was elsewhere now and I accepted it, although bittersweet.  My son is now a Vice President of a fine company with a nice wife, children, home, friends.    And I know he is no longer mine.

It took him awhile to see that the world is not black and white but more gray than he realized.  It took him awhile to understand that life is not always played to a script but has a way of reaching out and biting you in the butt when you least expect it.  It took him awhile to understand that sacrifice has its place and having it all is just a saying.  It took him awhile.

He hates reminiscence.    Did not like to be reminded that he was once a child who did childish things.  But I could always pull from my “Randy file” the things that made him who he was and is.  He never gave me any trouble and I was always proud of him but he viewed these episodes as “sudsy”.  That is until he had his own children.

He wept the day his first daughter was born.  The weight of her melted his heart.  Her every thought, word, deed was recorded in his mind.  The reaction to his second daughter was the same.  No amount of pictures or videos was too much for him.  He dotes!

On his 38th birthday I wish him to be able to live to see a healthy 100!  Gathering and filing the data that is his life.  His children, his grandchildren, his dreams fulfilled!    And though I will not be here to continue the “Randy file” that started on the day of his birth, it will always be a part of who he is and what he has become.Happy Birthday, my once little boy!    My heart is full.

67 Responses

  1. Happy Birthday Randy!

    Pat, my baby boy turned 25 on Tuesday. 🙂

  2. Happy Birthday Randy!

    Oh Pat — I love this post!!! I’m so glad you decided to do it!.

  3. What a sweet story, Pat! I have a Randy, too, but he is 27- he worked as a bag boy in high school as well- he prided himself in scientifically bagging the groceries in the proper distribution- it was so fun to line up and be waited on by him! Happy birthday to yours.

  4. {{Pat}} This is a lovely tribute and birthday gift. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    I’m so glad to see you assuming your rightful place on the front page.


    • I second that emotion!

      • I third and request it be accepted by voice acclaimation by the whole confluence….

        In this case can we suspend the rules and the roll call?

  5. Beautiful!

  6. Pat,

    I love this post. I’ve read it three times now and each time it brought tears to my eyes. I only hope I live long enough to see my little nephews grown up.

  7. Touching. Great tribute.

  8. I forgot to say, Happy Birthday, Randy!

  9. WOW Pat! thank you for the post!

    Sounds like you done good!

    Happy Birthday, Randy!

  10. Cheesecake filled chocolate covered strawberries sent to you as promised.
    I loved you post. I also have 4 kids and my youngest will be 38 in June ( although I am only 21}
    Please keep posting.



  11. A Friday the 13th birthday! Spooky!

    Beautiful post, Pat!

  12. Oh Pat, that made me tear up. How wonderful to have you as a poster.

    Yesterday, someone mentioned Tiger Beat, which prompted me to remember Tony DeFranco. FLVoter posted a link to them singing “Heartbeat is a Lovebeat.” It made me laugh & cry. I was 12 when that came out, and I played the hell out of that record, dancing and singing with the abandon that age allows. Your post also takes me back to those “Wonder Years,” with all their tender memories. Randy was lucky to have such and intelligent, sensitive and aware mom. That is obviously key to what made him the man he is today.

    Happy Birthday Randy.

  13. Pat, You are a wonderful writer – it reads like poetry.

  14. Oh, Pat, that was well worth the wait. Wonderful!

  15. *sniffle*
    bravo, Pat.

  16. Well Pat, believe it or not, I do not tear up easily. Thank you. And Happy Birthday Randy.

  17. Beautiful post, Pat. (sniff) Your joy is flowing out of my computer screen.

    I wish your baby a Happy Birthday, and I congratulate you on raising such an amazing son.

  18. This is not only wonderfully written, pat, it’s a testament to unselfish love – the best kind there is.

  19. Honestly, I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have 4 children under age 5 all at once. My mom had three of us girls when I was 6, and I can’t begin to imagine how she did it.

  20. beautiful post, Pat. I just loved it. Thank you.

  21. Pat J,

    this is really a great and moving post. It made me wish my mom could blog about me.

  22. Very touching. Your post brought tears to my eyes. What an excellent writer.

    Happy Birthday Randy!

  23. Congratulations on your first front page, Pat.
    I’m so glad you took the leap.

    I have two GenXer’s, too, similiar ages, two girls – women now.
    They too had to deal with their parents’ divorce, and worked after school through high school. Seeing them with their own kids is amazing.

    Also, isn’t it amazing how fast time moves as you get older. I remember my parents’ generation repeating that cliche, and how amusing I found it. Now – I was thinking about that as I took my second walk of the season. Snow finally melted on my little country road.

    As I write this a CD is playing “On Our Way Back Home.”
    I remember us all driving home to Long Island when my kids were little and singing that in the car. It felt so safe and wonderful.

    Happy Birthday, Randy. Many more.

    • I know! Time goes by so much faster now. My dad says it’s because when you’re a kid a year is a big proportion of your life, but as you get older that proportion gets smaller and smaller.

  24. Nice tribute to your son. Happy Birthday Randy!

  25. aw jeez Pat! making people cry is not nice!

    i LOVE this post. love love love it.

    It is deceptively difficult (practically impossible I think) to write well about every-day things. It’s even rarer to be able to write well about motherhood and your own children.

    You’ve achieved a masterly tone — objective and removed, but full of love — most mothers, when writing about their children, reflexively turn it back into writing about themselves (how I felt, what I did, why I’m a good mother) and the children become props on the stage of the author’s ego (see: Judith Warner, NYT columnist).

    As the author, you maintained a distance from the two characters and allowed the “mother” in the story to hover above the action, influencing and attentive but not IN the story — just like a real mother is.

    Hope to see more and more posts from you!

  26. special hugs to Pat my Fav P-flag mom!

  27. Just beautiful, Pat. I never had kids, but it makes me think back on my wonderful nieces and nephews.

  28. Pat, God may have made man in His image, but the Goddess makes men in Her image, too. She raises him in Her garden until he eats from the Tree of Knowledge and realizes his image is no longer Hers, and he must leave to till the soil and become as God, himself.
    You are a Goddess.
    And, of course your Randy is special, he’s a Pisces.

  29. If my computer ADAM will let this work
    for Randy it may not be a PUMA but it is a big cat.




  30. I just arrived home and I am speechless! Never thought this little post would be so warmly received. Being in the same company of those Front Pagers who have made my day with their flair and intellect is humbling to say the least.

    And knowing Randy, he would be doing a fine impression of Jimmy Stewart right about now. Ducking his head, toeing the floor, red with embarassment, and “aw shucksing” all over the place.

    I hope it wasn’t too “sappy” by the standards set by this blog but certain dates arouse memories. This is just one of them. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It is quite touching.

    • It isn’t sappy at all, Pat. As Murphy said, you wrote it from the point of view of a loving mother who has let go and is proud of what her son has become–“objective and removed, but full of love.” You really should show it to Randy eventually, even if it does embarrass him.

  31. I am a lurker here from time to time but this post was absolutely beautiful and I had to say so. No, it wasn’t too mushy – it was beautifully heartfelt and objective at the same time. What a good son you raised , Pat, which is a tribute to you. I have a 14 year old son and the part where you wrote “he is no longer mine” just brought a huge lump to my throat. Great job and Happy Birthday Randy!

  32. I’m in tears Pat-I’ve yet to get through Graduation and Wedding.

    Hopefully you’ll write about the other three on their birthdays!!!

    And Murphy was right on.

  33. HAPPY BIRTHDAY RANDY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    and WOO-HOO TO PAT on being a Conflucian POSTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Nerve wracking to say the least! I am still chuckling over you and Margaret Chase Smith answers. We had fun!

      • We sure did!

        I hope we can do it again!

        Happy b-day to your 38th yr wonder!

        • I wish we lived closer.

          • I KNOW!!!! 😦

            If I’m ever in Boston for a couple of days, I most definitely have to go out to Springfield to see you. I have some friends there as well & would love to meet up with you.

  34. Pat this is a beautiful post, your son’s birthday and I just found out moments before I read it, that my son has gotten his demobilization orders. He will be home end of July.

    There is something very special that goes on between a mother and her sons.

    I have cried twice today and they were those good tears, the happy tears are the best ones.

    • Kim, that’s wonderful!

    • We will have a giant PUMA party when he gets home.
      I am so very glad for you and your family.
      I will say a prayer for his and all the others there for their safety.



  35. Kim, such great news from those of us here who have been with you every step of the way. What a relief to hear he will be coming home this Summer. And I am sure you kept most of your worries and doubts a secret from him as well as to not complicate his life even more. But the good news is that he is coming home!

  36. Thanks Pat!! Hugs to you and your son!!

  37. Aw, you made me cry, Pat!

    Hallelujah, Kim!!!

  38. Pat…I’m coming out of the shadows to thank you for the heartwarming, beautifully written post.

  39. Aw Pat this was so wonderful. I’m so glad you posted your happy birthday wishes to Randy.

    By the way, I can almost hear him saying “mmooooooom!” when I read this:
    “He loved to read and his favorite was the “Little House on the Prairie” set he borrowed from his sister. He denies that today but it is a fact.”

    hee hee hee!

  40. Beautiful tribute Pat, he is lucky to have you as his mom.

  41. i’ll wipe my eyes & go hug my 6 year old son…and remember to treasure the little stuff. everyday.
    thank you.

  42. Lovely Kim-can’t wait for July to hear he’s back…

  43. These lines made me blub:

    “He wept the day his first daughter was born. The weight of her melted his heart.”

    Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful memories. So glad you’re finally posting.

  44. Pat, this is wonderful and I hope to see many more posts by you. It is hard to capture a mother’s love in mere words, you did it. It has come full circle.
    Happy Birthday Randy! I read my Little House books until they fell apart!
    And to Kim, bless you, I am so happy that your son will be coming home.
    Extra hugs for my 3 kids today.

  45. Great first POST !! I am absolutely delighted that I get to read more of your writing than your responses in the threads, because I have gone searching for them !
    What a great gift for your son…. this beautiful expression of your love !!!

  46. De lurking for a moment;
    Great post Pat. Hope to see more of them on the front page where you belong!
    BTW and totally off topic: Is anyone as furious as I am about BO”s speech on Monday about education? He is in favor of merrit pay for teachers,which comes straight out of regressive Repub policy-speak. The teachers I work with who voted for BO are livid. This president has the reverse Midas touch;everything he touches turns to sh*t.

  47. De lurking for a moment;
    Great post Pat. Hope to see more of them on the front page where you belong!
    BTW and totally off topic: Is anyone as furious as I am about BO”s speech on Monday about education? He is in favor of merrit pay for teachers,which comes straight out of regressive Repub policy-speak. The teachers I work with who voted for BO are livid. This president has the reverse Midas touch;everything he touches turns to sh*t.

    • I was furious, too, silverlakemom. Merit pay has been studied and it doesn’t work and is just an excuse to get rid of tenure for teachers and probably union busting, too. That’s really like pitting teachers against eachother. I think his education policy is no different than Bush’s, to tell you the truth.

  48. Pat, I haven’t been here for a few days, but i saw this beautiful post and had to tell you how much I loved it! i’ve been missing you!

    happy birthday randy

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