"My mother said to me, "If you become a soldier you'll be a
general; if you become a monk you'll end up as the pope." Instead,
I became a painter and wound up as Picasso." - Pablo Picasso
A few years ago, I wrote a blog called Why Motherhood is the Hardest Thing I've ever Done. And it is. In an instant, I went from a 31 year old highly independent, somewhat self absorbed girl to someone's mother. What the hell was I thinking? People always say, "I'm just not ready for kids." and they are right. No one is ready for kids. Not even when you think you are ready. Because a millisecond after you give birth, your world is rocked. They shove that kid in your face and he's yours. In my case, I was high on morphine and exhausted after 18 hours of labor that resulted in an emergency c-section. It's quite vague; those first few minutes, but I do remember Stephen walking into the recovery room, my sister Crissy standing beside him and me yelling, "Where the baby? You left the baby?? He's never been alone!" In that moment, I became a fierce protector. P.S. Max wasn't actually alone...Stephen left him with a old lady nurse who was sporting a beard (no lie).
Over the last 9 and 1/2 years, Max and I have weathered many storms. He endured the pain of crying, sometimes up to 10 minutes at a time as a baby. I endured sleepless nights for about 5 years. He endured the discomfort of a shitty diaper. We endured the surgical like procedure of tag teaming him (me and Stephen, me and my mother, me and my sister) with a pair of scissors and paper towels in order to literally cut the unsalvageable clothing off his body. He endured an accidental pinch on his tiny chest with a pacifier clip that is still scarred today. I endured a fall down the steps while carrying him in a car seat, resulting in a dislocated jaw, busted tooth and 3 stitches in my chin. He was thrown clear into the yard where Stephen found him unscathed. He accepted the sadness of his parents separation as a painful reality. We let him learn to be okay with that. He comforted me when my brother died unexpectedly. I comforted him when his grandmother died of lung cancer (and he comforted me too.)
But that kid makes me laugh. Every single day. I have been blessed by a child who is inherently happy. I'm a strong believer that God gives you exactly what you need, even if you don't know it at the time. I had a child who did not sleep the first 13 months of his life. But he smiled. All the time. As I lay in bed, on many sleepless, post partum depressed nights, next to me was my wide awake child, holding his feet, involved in a deep conversation with his toes. On my first day back to work after my brother died, I tried in vain to cover the deep circles under my eyes with foundation. Max walked in and said "What are you doing? Everyone knows you've been crying." One day, he got in the shower with gum in his mouth. He came out with it on his back (although he didn't want me to find out what he had done so he tried to get it off himself). This is what it looked like.
|Yes, I made him pose for this picture so I could post it on Facebook|
|Guns and Swords. You can never be too careful.|
|I'm such a badass, I don't even need weapons anymore.|
I have very few notes my mother every wrote me in life and for that I'm sad. My mother was a consummate story teller and I'd like to think I've been blessed with her gift. I know Max has been blessed with the Ciliberti sense of humor and of all of his wonderful, amazing traits, I'm pretty sure I value that one the most.
Humor can get you through just about anything in life. Max has given me a reason to laugh every single day for the last 9 and 1/2 years, even when laughing was hard. He was given to me to let me know that sometimes, things aren't as complicated as they look. He makes me want to protect childhood from all of the social pressure that people and parents put on kids to be the smartest or the best. I want him to experience life as its meant to be experienced, warts and all. He's allowed to fail. It's allowed to be his fault. He's allowed to be angry. But he always needs to laugh. That is my only requirement on his life. It's the only way he'll get to be Picasso.