I turned thirty this summer. For a big milestone birthday, it actually went by without a lot of fanfare or personal trauma. Most of the time I feel good about thirty. Having thirty years of life under your belt gives you a certain amount of respect. I actually do know what I'm talking about. Why? Because I'm thirty.
Turning thirty made me think about a lot of things, not the least of which is that it has been more than twenty years since my family left Brooklyn. Although Jim and I make at least a few trips to my former hometown each year, and my familiarity with the 'hood is pretty good, I haven't actually been a resident of New York since I was eight. So given the long stretch of time that we've been in Boston, it is pretty extraordinary that we are still connected to the mother's support group that my mother and three other women began when I was just a few months old.
For those of you who don't know this story (and because there are absolutely no strangers reading this blog, I imagine that most of you do) my parents moved to Brooklyn from Virginia in the summer of 1979, just days before I was born. My mother didn't know anybody, but like most people in New York City, she walked everywhere. And eventually, through various hilarious chance encounters on the sidewalks of Brooklyn, she met three other women and began a mother's support group. All of the babies were born in the summer of 1979, and despite (or perhaps because of) many personal and cultural differences, we are all still very close friends.
My ideal vision of new parenthood has always revolved around this romantic notion that I too would have the same experience. That Jim and I would meet several other like-minded, interesting, diverse couples with babies exactly the age of our child. Like my parents, we would celebrate holidays together, throw joint birthday parties, help each other babysit and organize annual picnics. We would support each other as parents, but also as friends and professionals. Because we're nearly the first of our friends to have a baby, my vision isn't exactly a reality. But that's okay, because Beckett has a special place in this world. He's the leader and the example. He is the first grandchild in both Jim and my families and he is the first of his generation in our extended "New York family".
In July, my best friend Nora (one of the four original 'babies') and her husband Dan invited all of the families to their beautiful Brooklyn home to celebrate Beckett's arrival. We camped out in her little backyard, enjoying the mid-summer sunshine and fabulous food, everybody taking turns holding Beckett. Most of the time, he slept in Nora's old pram, which her mother had pulled out and cleaned just for the occasion.
Later, in the kitchen with Nora's father, we marveled and sighed at the enormity of this milestone. Later that night, we met up with friends for dinner, taking Beckett on his first dinner out. We strolled by the little house where my family used to live, just down the street from Nora's, and we took pictures of Beckett and I standing next to the stoop. It seemed important to capture the moment, a new generation standing in the same place that my mother and I stood 30 years ago.
This past weekend one of the families threw a party for us in Brooklyn to celebrate our thirtieth birthdays. Once again, we enjoyed the late-day sun in a Brooklyn backyard. I listened to the mothers tell the stories of how they met for what seems like the thousandth time. Although I've seen a few new mothers strolling past my house, I have been too shy to chase them down the street, or strike up a conversation in the coffee shop. I have a new appreciation for what these four women did to give each other support during this magical but mystical time. So as much as it was a celebration for the babies in our thirtieth year, I think our mothers deserve a little recognition. Without them, we probably wouldn't have remained friends, particularly after my family moved back to Virginia, and then Boston. It is because of them that Beckett will not only have his blood family, but an extended family in one of the most exciting cities in the world.
Thank you mom, Betsy, Sally, and Laurie. We love you all.