"You have adults!" she said.
It doesn't feel that way. I don't have children anymore. I have adults. They can vote. They can drive. They can get married. They could fight in a war.
"You have to promise me this," she said. "Celebrate yourself. It's not just their day."
I was quiet for a moment and she said, "You were a single mom. With twins. Celebrate how far you've come."
I don't always remember what the world felt like when I was twenty-two years old and had a baby in each arm. I remember moments, little glimpses into what might be someday. I remember a moment of embarrassment at JcPenney's, when the elderly cashier asked me what their daddy did for a living. I had these two infants and my husband had left me. I made up a lie and said he worked at one of the local businesses in the town I lived in. I didn't want her to know I was alone. I didn't want her to think poorly of me for being a single mom of two babies. I didn't want her to know what a failure I was as a wife so she wouldn't think I was a failure as a mom.
What I learned in time was that you can't control what people think. That people sometimes just think if you aren't married and you have a child (or two) that you're a big whorebag. That something is wrong with you.
There was plenty wrong with me. Still is. But my children have never, ever been part of what is wrong with me. Never.
Instead, they have been my Fight Song. They have been the reason that I kept going, when things like severe depression and a painful divorce made me want to stay in bed. I never really understood what it was to love someone until I had them. I never felt it was really okay to be myself, my complete, honest, 100% genuine self, until them. They made it okay. More than that? They accepted and loved me, warts and all.
And my God, there have been warts. I have failed in some way every single day of their lives and they just kept right on loving me.
I never belonged anywhere, until I belonged with them.
People warned me that I couldn't make my life all about my children. That someday they would grow up and move away and where would that leave me? So I dated. I fell in love. I went to college. I worked. What I realized is that all of these things didn't matter without them. That it was impossible for me to separate the "mom" part of myself from all the other parts. That every decision I made was made with them and their best interests at the forefront of my mind.
So I'm celebrating. They are eighteen today. They are in school. High school and college classes. They have jobs. They are hard-working and kind. They make good grades. No one is pregnant. No one is on drugs. Other than minor disagreements everyone in our house gets along and loves one another.
They are good people. They are hilariously funny and snarky and just the perfect amount of sarcastic. They are loving. They get along with almost everyone. They are concerned with fairness and equality. They have big dreams and big goals. They appreciate what they have and they both have huge, giving hearts.
They want to make the world a better place. I would argue that their presence in the world already makes it a better place.
It's certainly made my world better.
He can run so fast. He makes straight A's. He wants to study biology, maybe or history. He can talk endlessly about politics and wars and how it all ties in together. He drives like he's eighty years old and is equally careful in most areas of his life (messy bedroom not withstanding). He's over six feet tall now and his waist is 28 inches, making pants shopping an adventure. I'm pretty sure he's brilliant and I'm pretty sure I'm not just saying that because I'm his mom. This kid, he knows things. He gets people. He's amazingly compassionate and hysterically funny. He motivates me. He pushes me. He's competitive...like me. He looks nothing like me, but we're so much alike sometimes it scares me. I hope he's better than me. I know he will be.
They are still best friends. I think they always will be.
I am so, so proud of both of them. Not only for who they are today, but for who I know they will be in the future.
People ask me sometimes why I work so hard. Why I try so hard. Why I can never, ever give up.
This is why.
This will always be why.
We have grown, we have grown. All of us. Together.
And it's a very, very happy day.