Your special day was more subdued than I envisioned.
I suppose “subdued” is what I should have expected, though, in the midst of a global pandemic and a regional directive to shelter in place. There’s only so much you can do when restaurants are closed, nonessential traveling is discouraged, and gatherings of 10 or more people are essentially banned.
Truthfully, I had hoped to throw you a huge shindig. Not necessarily in terms of the guest list (because I know you prefer to keep things intimate). But definitely in terms of energy. A party full of laughter and beer and burgers and donuts and all the people that you like to have in your corner.
I’m saddened that I couldn’t give you that celebration this year, especially since this is a milestone one for you. Amidst all this craziness going on in the world, I recognize that my reaction is selfish, probably a little misplaced. After all, there are bigger things going on in the world, right?
But after yesterday, after our “subdued” birthday celebration at home, I would have to say: no, celebrating you on your day — just the five of us, with the empty takeout boxes piled on the counter, with Henri whining for crumbs or potentially a big bite, with the boys’ chubby faces lighting up to sing you “happy birthday” and devouring their pieces of cake and ice cream — is the biggest thing going on in the world for us right now.
So, happy birthday to you, love. Thank you for being you. Thank you for weathering this storm. Thank you for always thinking about what’s best for me and the boys. On your 30th birthday, I hope we were able to give you the best, too.
A little under two months ago, I gave birth to my second son.
It’s a funny thing because, while I’d always envisioned myself as a mother, I’d never thought that I’d be the mother of two boys. I guess I’d always assumed I’d have at least one daughter (not to say that isn’t an option in the future; I’m just not really thinking about another baby anytime soon).
As a modern-day woman — and one who had grown up in a household with a 2:1 female-to-male ratio —, the thought of raising a daughter always seemed a lot more straightforward. I knew from direct experience the lessons I wanted to impart on her, the gender expectations I wanted to sidestep.
But a son? Let alone two sons?
There is a lot more gray area for me to navigate — and a basic lack of understanding of the modern male experience. Raising boys always seemed like an intimidating task to me.
Thankfully, I have an amazing partner who’s had his own experience navigating harsh expectations of what it means to be a man. And he’s been so integral in helping us prioritize how we want to raise — and, ultimately, define some key lessons that we want to impart on — our boys.
Tadashi* hit an unfortunate milestone this week: his first sickness. More specifically, his first bout of the flu. Which has made for a very tumultuous past few days in the C.B. household.
Looking back, it’s simultaneously funny and miraculous how we even discovered he was sick: it was because our DVR malfunctioned. For whatever reason, my recording of Sunday’s post-Super Bowl episode of “This Is Us” was botched. And, because I couldn’t bear to go to sleep and wake up to spoilers all over my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I re-activated my Hulu account and waited until midnight for the new episode to pop up on the streaming service.
And thank God that happened. Because, while waiting to watch the new episode, I realized that my sleeping baby was sleeping a lot longer than usual and was making an odd whistling sound while snoozing.
So, for whatever reason, Reggie and I decided to take Tadashi’s temperature. And lo and behold — he had a 104º fever.
That led to a bit of whirlwind night, filled with long phone wait-times with the Kaiser Advice Nurse, panicked conversations with my mom and my sister, and mini arguments about whether or not we should give Tadashi Tylenol, whether or not we should undress him some more, whether or not we should bring him to the emergency room…