Nine years ago, two fine people from two fine families from two fine countries went to City Hall and got hitched.
Later that morning, they went to brunch with their families.
Later that afternoon, they took a nap.
Later that evening, their friends came by to celebrate.
Late that night, the barman at the Irish-American Heritage Center arrived with this glass.
Filled with whiskey at the time, it has since been filled with water, wine, orange juice and milk. It has been used to make up a quick vinaigrette, or as an ashtray for cigars. It has moved from cupboard to cupboard across the country.
In the cupboard, it has no match.
It isn’t part of any set.
It stands alone — one of a kind — just like the day on which it was given.
Who knew tiny feet grew so fast?
He never complained, just let me shove those feet into hand-me-down shoes, got right up and went about his day. Watching him tackle milestone after milestone, I didn’t stop to think about what he was wearing while doing so. And then it hit me one day, as I jammed his left foot in unceremoniously… These shoes might be too small.
So off we went to a children’s shoe store, to get him sized properly. As it turned out, I had been stuffing size 7 feet into size 5 shoes. After guilt-purchasing two pairs of the best brands in the store, I spent the afternoon pondering my misstep.
I have learned a lot so far as a mother, but this lesson hit me hard. Because my only job, really, is to help him put his best foot forward, and here I was doing exactly the opposite. My only real responsibility is to raise my child to have a curious mind, a good heart, and two feet planted firmly on solid ground.
Already he is growing faster than I can keep up. What else am I failing to notice?
And now for the toast — with each day that I fasten those Stride-Rites, may I recommit to nurturing that boy from head to toe. May I watch him run, and fall, and pick himself back up, heading out into the world full speed ahead.
In his most recent visit, Grampy (formerly known as my father) brought me a copy of Carl Sandburg’s collection of poems, Honey and Salt. On the inside cover was an inscription written by the author’s daughter: “‘Love is a deep and a dark and a lonely__’ p.11.” Flipping to page eleven, I immediately read the following verse and was moved by the honesty and the acceptance in each line.
Since then, my beautiful friend has lost her beloved sister. It is one of those moments where the limitation of my own writing becomes glaringly real. So thank you to Carl for saying it for me, and for all of us, right there on page eleven.