I'll never forget waking with a furious contraction at 2:20am on July 4th, 2006, having our doula tell Tom to get me to the hospital pronto when she heard how quickly the contractions were coming, plugging in my curling iron because photos, my mother telling me to put the ridiculous curling iron away and get in the car, racing across the bridge with the sky still dark, and watching Jack slip peacefully and beautifully into this world at 7:45. A race of a labor and delivery and a wonderful one. Jack was four days early, and as I listened to the fireworks that night, it seemed totally fitting he'd been born on the 4th.
Today that baby turned eleven! And we have had a fine celebration!
Our neighborhood comes together for a wonderfully fun morning: a decorated stroller, trike, and bike parade around the circle and to the park; the reading of the Declaration of Independence; races-both sprints and sack races- and tugs-of-war; Italian ices; and face painting. Jack won 3rd place in the older kid division of bike decorations and also in the 25-yard dash. I wore my Wonder Woman socks but did not manage to place in the Mom's 50-yard run. Alas.
Then the boys' cousins came over for the afternoon, and tonight we had Jack's choice of gumbo and blackberry pie for dinner before watching Planet Earth II: Cities. (Have y'all watched any of that production? Incredible footage! I cannot even imagine how it was all filmed.) The boys decided to dress up for the occasion, and I think they looked terribly handsome.
Hope you all had a good holiday and that you considered America's origin story, the good and the bad. We have so much promise, we have done so much right, but we are imperfect and are faltering mightily right now. We must reckon with the sinful, ugly elements in our history, with the falsehoods we purposefully perpetuate because of who those myths both exclude and exalt. We must stop closing our minds and hearts and borders, and instead toss away the fear and disregard and intolerance that both cause and result in those constrictive behaviors.
I looked around today during our neighborhood party, heard Italian and German being spoken, saw friends of African and Latin heritage. Afterwards, as my nieces, half Vietnamese, spent several happy hours being silly with my boys, as I listened to all of their pure and tinkling laughter reverberating throughout the house, I thought about how rich a place this country is because of the many and various hands that have come here and laid down so many stitches, knitting a place of cultures and ideas.
There is room for so much and so many here. I can't fathom why so many act in such exclusionary ways towards others. I can't fathom why so many in our government want to take health care away from millions just to give folks who are already wealthy even more. What does it say when we ignore the least fortunate among us? When we want to actually build a wall and legislate targeted bans to keep whole countries out of ours? When hypocrisy and greed and lying seem OK and even popular in some quarters?
I thought about all of that today as my son turned 11 and this country neared the 250 mark. And although my crew, so fortunate and grateful and desirous of giving back and bettering our communities in any ways possible, felt happy all day, a piece of my heart ached mightily for a country that I am not wholly proud of right now. For a country that is letting so many of its citizens down by not educating, feeding, supporting, seeing them.
I hope that when my boys are older and heading into more independent lives that this country will be better. Will have steered itself on a more just course. Will have lived up to what is has the potential to live up to.