Today, my daughter turns eighteen and my son is only twenty months younger.
This morning as I watched this beautiful woman-child-creature eat her birthday bacon Chaz cooked for us in celebration, of course my mind wanders to my eighteenth birthday, which was almost exactly eighteen years ago.
Just four days before I had celebrated my one year wedding anniversary. My husband was working at a logging camp in Alberta, but since I was getting close to delivering our child and certain I would have this baby early as my mother had done with her seven children, I stayed home with my mother who was also my midwife.
The baby had been breech since the last ultrasound. I was stoic in my determination to deliver naturally. The long walks up long steep hills made my hips ache and my back cramp which mother said were both good signs. I got down and crawled in the fresh May dandelion filled grass fields whenever possible to encourage the baby to get that head down where it belonged. Delivering naturally at home was my only birth plan.
While preparing to give birth is my primary focus, it is after-all my eighteenth birthday, an event I'm determined to celebrate. I've always enjoyed my birthdays. Seven of my close high-school friends who are also my cousins come to the clinic where my mother and grandmother live in the beautiful suit upstairs.
Of the seven of us, we have two infants in car seats, a toddler, and two more baby bumps.”I’ll call my husband when I go into labour.” I tell my girl posse. “I’m sure I’ll labour many long hours before this baby is born. He will have lots of time to get here for the birth."
A midwife from Victoria is staying for a few weeks to assist mother in her busy midwifery practice. She tells us she works with crazy pregnant teenagers. “Oh, like us?” Together we laugh at ourselves easily, knowing full well the judgment that is common from people outside our community when they see us actively engaged in becoming teenage mothers. We prepare the snacks and cake for the party. This motherly woman has attended some community functions and met many of the families in our community. Her laugh is derision as she shakes her head. “You girls have no idea.”
At the breakfast table, my eighteen year old daughter scurries to get her bathing suit and slips it into her backpack. She’s wearing a light yellow floral cotton maxi skirt jumper, not terribly different than one I would have worn when I was pregnant with her. However, glowing copper tanned arms and forest green bando bra under it speak of a different era . Her blond hair loops carelessly into a messy bun.
It’s skip day for the grade 12s, she says. “The grads are all skipping class to go to the lake for the day.
I’m reminded, only two more weeks of school breakfasts with all of us together. “Don’t forget we are decorating for Prom on Friday at 2:00,” she reminds me as she heads out the door.
In the cabin where her grandfather was born sixty two years ago, I kiss my beautiful baby daughter as she gets into her green Subaru Outback and heads to school.