I realized this while at a Harrisonburg High School performance of Aida last Saturday night. It was my second time in attendance, the first being during the preview show. Free tickets and deeply discounted tickets encouraged us to load up the not-so-littles on a Wednesday night to watch the show and listen for their big brother on the drum set.
My first-born son, second-born child, and alumnus of Harrisonburg High School, attended with me the second time, having driven up from his adult life in Roanoke for the weekend. Six years before began his adventure at HHS as a junior, and he sang in two musicals, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, during his time there.
Six years ago the littles were 7, 5, 3, and 1. Drum set brother was 11.
During intermission and after the show, my eldest son connected with friends and caught up with former teachers. I wandered with him, as well, tagging along, a third wheel feeling stirring inside. Small talk has never been my strong suit. There were several parents of students from his era who complimented me on senior son’s drumming.
Is he (drummer child) your youngest?
This question, and others about family size, drags me by the ankle and pulls me under in the deep end of the conversation pool, because acknowledging that, no, he is actually the fourth of eight stirs up a whole lot of what is still unresolved in my heart. They are just making conversation, not expecting my freaky fact to surface, and have no real follow-up other than some version of, I was not expecting you to say that.
Those who had never met my eldest son, and who met me through child four, were surprised that I had older children.
I thought he (drummer child) was your oldest!
And there you have the beef that drummer child has with me in the first place, being in the awkward middle. He is the baby of the olders and the biggest of the youngers. Depending on how you know me, maybe it is all starting to make sense, now. Maybe not.
As I allowed my heart to feel all of the big feelings surrounding watching my senior son on stage for senior night that I would have missed had not adult son come to visit, tears began to flow. As I continue to embrace my story and the fact that most people’s issues don’t follow them around and call them Mom, tears flow. Trying to find words to sort the overwhelming bigness that is my life brings tears.
As did this musical. If you have never heard of or seen Aida the Elton John/Tim Rice musical, look it up. Start by watching the video below of a song from the show called “How I Know You” which just seemed perfect considering the theme of this post.
How do you know me?