My children have molded me
We are not a demonstrative family. But from time to time the boy surprises me. He snakes his hand into mine and gently squeezes. “I love you, mom.”
It usually doesn’t last long enough for me to question whether he has an ulterior motive, though I imagine this sudden burst of affection is payment in kind for some happiness he credits to my doing.
This time, after he let go, he disappeared into the cavernous house that was his cousins’, finding a few moments of freedom amid the family festivity. Freedom to secrecy in all manner of imaginary boyhood things.
His sister, who had also sidled up to me earlier, wrapped her arms around my shoulders to profess her love, was now winking at me from across the kitchen island. She found herself happily volunteered to unpack glassware and replace candles in votives. The planners could tell this wasn’t her first fancy party.
In another wink, she would help arrange charcuterie on a stone serving tray.
I may have been out of my element, but she was in hers. It was the first family fete that she’d ever attended that had an organizer and a spreadsheet checklist. She was in love.
The boy will be back, this time wearing a safety vest and holding a walky-talky. Unlike his sister, who is all serious business, he is gleefully squawking made-up commands into the box: “We got a 23-19 out here. REPEAT. A 23-19.”
His job, which he chose to accept, was to help park cars. “Help” being a word used euphemistically.
As guest cars approached, my son dodged behind trees as if playing a game of keep away.
Instead of trying to explain he’s wearing a highvisibility vest so he can be seen, I follow him around the yard begging him to stand still for a picture.
He’s still young enough to be adorable.
His sister watches us from the kitchen window as she carefully builds a pyramid of macrons, creatively arranging them by where they fall on the color spectrum. She is happy to correct anyone who calls the tasty delights “macaroons,” explaining in detail the difference between the finicky almond meal sandwich cookies and the sticky coconut islands. She adds that her own attempts to make the confections have not been entirely successful.
She is trying not to sound like a condescending know-it-all.
Luckily, she is succeeding, though the guests won’t be put off by a precocious teen. This party, she will soon learn, has a wealth of guests who actually do know all things.
And in the company of people who are so charmed, one can witness the difference between the type of confidence that breeds benefactors and the type that fuels charlatans.
They don’t have much they haven’t already proved.
In fact, they will find her charming.
I know, because many of them will approach me with their impressions, which are laced with superlatives.
I thank them for the compliments, assuming they think I am responsible. But I take no credit for either of my children. It’s hard to explain that for most of our lives together, it’s they who have molded me.
At the end of the evening, when I snake my hand into theirs and give a squeeze, I feel the love without question.
It’s more intoxicating than the wine.
Siobhan Connally is a writer and photographer living in the Hudson Valley. Her column about family life appears weekly in print and online.