Did my mother stop and ponder, that March at forty-two?
Maybe she was too busy preparing for her last trans-Atlantic move, figuring out which household items to pack, already missing the German landscape she'd be trading in for El Paso tumbleweeds once more in May. Maybe she was looking forward to my college graduation--or worried because it was one more event to attend during that transition.
My mother, at twenty-one: married, living in Paris with my Army father, navigating her first time overseas. Giving birth without her own mother nearby. She would have to pack up and move just six months later. My mother is so young, in those black-and-white photos stored in the cabinet. Did she think about this, that March of my twenty-first birthday?
Me, at twenty-one: barely surviving student teaching. Worried about getting a job after that May graduation. Happy to be "legal" again (the law changed when I was nineteen). Boyfriend, yes, but thoughts of marriage and children were only lightly discussed, certainly not planned.
Life's path has a way of twisting in unseen directions. In three years I would be married (not to the boyfriend of twenty-one). In three more, I became a mother.
That was a half-life ago.
Me, at twenty-seven: considering leaving the teaching profession that March, that intention set in stone when I found out I was pregnant. Thankful for that decision when my baby was born at twenty-six weeks in September. Worried about her health, her future.
My daughter, at twenty-seven: married, beginning her last year as a JET-ALT in Japan, preparing for another trans-Pacific move next summer. Trying to make the most of the time she has left overseas, even as she prepares for life back in the U.S. She has the gumption of her grandmother, her birthday-mate.
Me, at fifty-four: grateful for unplanned blessings, for what I've experienced and learned these last twenty-seven years.