Monday, July 14, 2008

Ode to Boy- 20 Years Old

Baby Alex is 20 Years Old Today!

It was 20 years ago today -- well, technically yesterday, but because I'm still awake, it's still today for me -- that I became a mother, bringing a sweet and wonderful boy named Alex into the world. It hardly seems possible that 20 years have passed since this day.

Baby Alex is 20 Years Old Today!

I was working for Chef Paul Prudhomme at the time and I dutifully gave birth on July 13, Chef's birthday. I wasn't quite prepared for the fast and furious labor and delivery (under 4 hours) and it was bitter-sweet event because none of my family were there. My dad hadn't gotten over his anger over my interracial marriage (remember, this was when interracial relationships were not so commonplace) and he forbade my mother to go to the hospital when I went into labor. I had been banished from the family home since the wedding and had spoken to my mother by phone but hadn't seen her throughout the pregnancy until the ninth month. My sister lived out of town and came to the hospital the next day, saving me from the utter despair of feeling completely abandoned by my family at the time when my own new family was taking form.

Baby Alex is 20 Years Old Today!

It took about three months of my mothers constant urging before Dad relented and released me from exile. I was so proud of Willie on that day when we went to my parents' house for the first time after Alex's birth. Willie could have been bitter and resentful; he could have been cold and aloof and it would have been well warranted. I'm sure my dad knew this and was probably a little uneasy about the visit. But instead Willie walked in with his head held high, hugged my mother hello (they were always on good terms), then walked over to my dad with a smile, and firm handshake and a warm greeting. My dad was completely disarmed. They both relaxed, conversation ensued, they watched a Saints game together, and by the end of the afternoon they were like old friends. And on that day my dad fell in love with the baby Alex, just as the rest of the family had. Just as I had on July 13, 1988.

Baby Alex is 20 Years Old!

In so many ways, Alex is everything I hoped he's be. He's independent, smart, sensitive, funny, loving, and he's his own person in every way. He's never been in any kind of trouble and it's been a great comfort to feel I can always trust his judgment.

My baby boy and his mom, Jazz Fest 2003

We didn't spend this day together because he had plans with friends and I missed him, but we'll celebrate tomorrow.

Baby Alex is 20 Years Old Today!

So the number 13 is a very lucky one for me. Doubly lucky, because I gave birth to a wonderful son on July 13th and 8 years later, I gave birth to a daughter on August 13th. Who can argue with that?

Blast from the Past: My Little Family

Thanks, Alex, for your love and your light and for coming and changing the world in many beautiful ways.
NOTE: It must be a special day because not only did I post something here, I posted a whole bunch more pictures of Alex past and present on Flicker tonight, too.

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Anonymous charlotte said...

When I read sentiments like this, so beautifully stated, I know I've missed a precious part of life not having children.

Hey, you haven't changed a bit since the earlier pix with Alex! Good genes and good livin', huh?!


8:06 PM  
Anonymous Maitri said...

Both the words about your son and how indescribably funny and adorable he looks in a Superman costume with Bugs Bunny slippers are so heartwarming. You make me look forward to having kids. Hope one of them turns out like Alex. Happy birthday, big guy!

11:45 AM  
Blogger mominem said...

Beautiful, your son, and the thoughts.

11:11 PM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

Thanks, you guys!

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Dr. A said...

Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing this story with us.
Glad to see some more pix of the camera-shy one at your FLICKR site!
Best to you and yours from another 13.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Sophmom said...

Beautiful. We had some superman pajamas like that in our family a while back. Michael would hardly take them off. Isn't it just amazing watching them grow up? No one could have told me how much fun it is to be the parent of adult children. Thanks so much for sharing this, the story and the picutures.

8:45 PM  
Blogger The Book said...


3:59 PM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

Oh, yeah! The fro in the picture here is nothing compared to what it was a couple of years ago. BIG! But it wasn't as neat. Still, I loved it.

10:41 PM  
Blogger NOLA radfem said...

The paragraph about your father finally sitting down with your husband and watching a Saints game made me cry.

During Katrina, I was in Little Rock and met an interrracial couple (she was white - Greek - and he was black) who had spent days at the Convention Center and then on I-10. I had a car, they didn't, and I got them to the Red Cross center, to the pharmacy, etc. Her mother told me that the rest of the family had disowned her daughter over her marriage and that for a long time, she herself had been unable to decide how she really felt about it. But, she said, "He stayed with her this week no matter what. He made a toilet she could use and a shelter for shade and a screen around the toilet for her privacy and he protected her every minute. He is a good man who loves my daughter, and from now on, anyone who has a problem with their marriage will answer to me. That's it."

Hurricanes. Saints games. Just stuff...and some people finally get it that people are just people.

By the way, while I was driving this couple around Little Rock, we were saying how lovely Little Rock was, but that, well, it just isn't...well, it isn't New Orleans. We all got quiet (it was such an emotional time), so I hit the button to turn on the car stereo, not remembering that I had a Neville Brothers CD in it. We all listened to the first song on "Live From Tipitina's" and then we agreed that, although Little Rock is clean and lovely and the people had been so kind to us, the problem with Little Rock is that it could never have produced the sound of the Neville Brothers.

And, for the 3 of us, that said it all.

11:36 PM  

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