Today is my 30th birthday. I was born on September 29 at 4:38 pm. For a year, I had to listen to people ask me my age and say, "oooh, turning thirty soon, huh?" My mother arrived from Florida today, asking the inevitable, "so how does it feel? Are you depressed?"
I looked at her as if "depressed" were a word she’d invented. "Are you kidding? Depressed? Why would I be?"
"Oh, I don’t know. I told some woman I work with that I was coming to New York for my daughter’s thirtieth birthday, and she said, ‘oh God! Thirty! I remember thirty! I was sooooo depressed. Good luck with that.’ So I dunno; I was expecting you to be. Well, you know, depressed." I didn’t know.
"What the hell do I have to be depressed about?"
She took a moment and looked up then back at me. "Nothing."
"Exactly. Now let’s go drink." My mother did as she was told.
photograph of mother, before I was born
We hit Bin 71. My sister wouldn’t be arriving until 10pm. We had some time to get our drink on.
"You know when I was thirty, I’d already given birth twice." Oh joy. Thanks for that.
"Here’s the thing, Mom. If I got pregnant now, I wouldn’t worry about it. I mean, of course I’d like more money or space, more time, sure, but are you ever really ready?"
"No," she said as she inhaled the Rioja, "you really aren’t ever ready. I didn’t want to have Lea, but your father made me. You were a living nightmare, so I didn’t want another one. I told your father, ‘I’m done. No more.’ But, he said, ‘ooooh, no. You can’t do that. You have to give her a sibling to grow old with.’ So then we tried to get pregnant, and it took us six months before I was pregnant with Lea."
"Yeah, but Lea was a lump of sugar."
"Yes, she was, but I didn’t know that at the time. I wasn’t really ready, but, well, it all works out."
"Yeah, I’m not scared. I love Phil. I don’t worry about any of that. I’d only worry about getting pregnant and not knowing it, like if I kept drinking without knowing that month. I mean, they make those prenatal vitamins for a reason right?"
"Oh stop. You worry and analyze too much. Live your life and stop thinking so much." She’s not the first to say it. "Please, the day I gave birth to you Stephanie, I had wine and the bloody show."
"The bloody show? What’s that?"
"You know. The bloody show."
"Nooo. I don’t know, what?"
She rolled her eyes. "Some people have their water break. I had the bloody show."
"Yeah, still not gettin’ ya Mom. Talk to me. Details. What the hell are you–"
‘Oh, come on. The bloody show." She pointed to her legs and knees.
"What, like how much blood was dripping down your legs?"
"I didn’t know what was happening. I was so naive, Stephanie."
"Yeah, I’m still naive. Hello???? You were at dripping…"
"Dripping? No. It’s called a bloody show for a reason. It pours, came gushing out. I said, ‘Oh my God! I’m going to have this baby! I better sit down and have some wine and raisin bran, get myself all ready for the table.’" I stared at her, setting my glass down. "What? It’s not like you pop right out. There’s a lot of pushing going on, and you didn’t come out until the next day. I remember being in the delivery room for hours, and I had such a craving for radishes. I mean a CRAVING." She bit down on her lower lip and looked at the ceiling, closing one eye a little more than the other, the same as I do when I like something. "Two weeks before you were born, that’s all I wanted. Radishes. Once you were born, I looked up and saw your red hair in the mirror, and I said, "must be all those red radishes I ate.’ I was outside myself; it came right out of my mouth, without thinking. I was so elated. I didn’t think about the stupid things I was saying. I just looked in that mirror and heard the doctor say, ‘what a head of red hair she has!’ And that’s all I could think. Radishes. You know, I still love them. Every time I eat a radish, I think about the day you were born.