“My name is Zoom, and I live on the moon, […]
“My name is Zoom, and I live on the moon, and I came down to earth just to sing you this tune, ‘Hey, Jennifer, it’s your birthday—today!'” A seriously short diddy from Mr. Zoom, but the custom birthday song was my favorite childhood jam. Each September 26 circa 7 a.m. I noshed confetti pancakes and hit repeat-repeat-repeat on the cassette player. Happy birthday to me! Thank you, Zoom!
It’s been a good 11 years since I’ve heard Mr. Zoom sing from the moon. My mom, however, still calls and sings to me every year. If I don’t answer, she’ll pipe happy birthday into my voicemail, and then she’ll call and call until I pick-up the phone. Mom’s always gotta say HBD before COB.
I never really understood how much my parents loved me. Not really. I mean, my dad took me on business trips (NYC!? Dad! Carson Daley is filming TRL, and if we could just make a sign? Maybe before your presentation?), and my mom waited in line for five hours (two separate times!) for N’SYNC tickets, and, let’s see—what else?
Ready for this? My parents worked together to keep me dressed (buying clothes, keeping them clean, sewing the holes!), fed (buying food, prepping food, packing lunches!), educated (mom doubled as my English tutor and dad taught me physics), sensible (endless advice on boys and friends and careers), and God-loving (church and Sunday school whether I liked it or not, and, truth-be-told, I did not. They loved me enough to help me move out of their home and across the country to attend college. After I graduated, they helped me move across the world, so I could volunteer at an orphanage. Years passed and they proved their love, once again, by giving me away in marriage.
A comparable way to describe a parent’s love? The ‘you’ll know when you know’ cliché that people use for dating. Are you familiar with the adage? You meet some nice guy, but his values are different from yours—so you ask friends and family: Is he right for me? Is this my guy? “Probably not,” they say, and then they follow-up with the mysterious, “You’ll know when you know.” I didn’t understand the wisdom behind the ‘you’ll know when you know’ advice until I met my husband. Similarly, I never realized how much my parents loved me until I had my own child.
My parents didn’t have it all together. We were a typical family, and we struggled with issues like addiction, depression and unemployment. My childhood was ripe with fights and misunderstandings and tears. There was also, however, a lot of love. Mom always said, “These aren’t hard times—this is your life—and family will help you through it.” I look back, and I realize how right she was. Now, everything but the love—the traditions, the trips, the dinners and the custom birthday tapes—seems like background noise.
I prayed and prayed for a little baby, and when I finally met him (on my labor day or his birthday or whatever name you choose) a love like I’ve never known rushed over and through me. I snuggled my newborn baby close and promised to protect him forever and always. It’s been seven amazing months, and I grow more in love with my babe every single day. How is that possible? My little buddy melts my heart with his smile and his laugh and his determination. He’ll grab my hand and kiss my face, and all I wanna do is help him discover joy. And then, just like that, I realize: This is how my parent feel about me.
Dear M&D, Thank you for loving me, but, even more than that, thank you for teaching me how to love.
I love you lots, and this post is for you. XOXO, Jen
P.S. Can you mail me that Zoom tape?