Archer Sage: Chapter Seven

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I watch him from the far end of the couch. It's his birthday today and he's home sick. I picked him up from school early yesterday and when I went to sign him out, I looked past him at first. He's so tall all of a sudden. Tall like my dad and my brother. Tall like I was when I was little. Tall and lanky with delicate arms. He looked sad and when I asked him how he was feeling it had nothing to do with his fever and everything to do with his heart. 

He had a bad dream the night before and came into bed with me. In his dreams, I keep dying. In his dreams I'm dying and I have to tell him, "Archer, I'm here! I'm here. I'm alive and I'm here." But I understand what's happening, I know where this comes from, my empathetic son with eyes that tell a thousand stories. It's been a rough few weeks for the kind of boy who takes his time deciphering his own puzzles, who doesn't want to talk about it, until one day he does. And then out it comes. In dreams and every conversation.

"But I don't want you to die," he says.

"I'm here."
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In the doctor's office, we are waiting. We take turns reading Hugo to each other and when the nurse calls his name we file inside. I realize, while we're there that it's the exact time he was born. And he's being weighed much like he was seven years ago except he's forty five pounds heavier now. And he has hair and all of these words and thoughts and faces. And I'm watching him step off the scale, slowly making his way to the little room where we sit and stare at the wall together. 

And it feels so poetic, this. I don't remember the last time we were alone, just the two of us. I don't remember the last time he held my hand in an elevator, put his head on my shoulder closed his eyes and just sat. 


And yet. Sometimes he wants to be my baby. Sometimes he becomes the only child he was those first three years, the boy who climbs into laps and asks for stories, lets me rock him, even with legs that hang over my arms, kicking the chair.

Sometimes he's still kind of my baby. 

Even though he's big.

Even though he's humongous.
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Last night before bed I lay down next to him, asked if he wanted to hear a story. He nodded, yes, so I told him the story of his birth. How Hal and I paced the house all day knowing that I was going to be induced that night. How we stopped for coffee at the Coffee Bean on Beverly and Robertson and I didn't drink anything and then we arrived and I had to take a wheelchair to the top floor... Where they hooked me up to a machine and we waited and eventually...

"Wait. Is this a true story?"

"Uh, yeah."

"I thought you were going to tell me a real story. A real fictional story."

Besides the Robertson/Beverly intersection part, he couldn't have cared less. 

"I wanted to tell you a real TRUE story instead because tomorrow's your birthday and every birthday-eve I think about this stuff and I wanted to share it with you."

He closed his eyes.

Then opened them.

Closed them.

Opened them. 

"Okay," he said. "You can share."

And then he hugged me.

I didn't want him to see that I was crying. I've been crying a lot lately. Alone. In the shower. The car... writing these posts in the dark of my office with the door closed. But last night he saw me, pulled my hand from his back, turned to face me. 

"Mom?" he said pulling away. "Do you want me to scratch your back or your arm?" 

I always hated that I love you Forever book. HATED. What manipulative drivel, I thought. (I still think.) Because CALM DOWN, Robert Munsch. Calm the fuck down!

Except, I kind of (a tiny little bit) get it now. I got it last night. 

Only because there are moments as a parent when you stand back and realize that your child is as much your caregiver and you are his. And last night I was supposed to be icing his back, scratching his arm, telling him stories. I was supposed to make him feel better. 

But in that moment, and for a while after, I was that little old lady with the top bun in her son's arms.

He's here.
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I don't often go back in the archives of this blog but I did tonight. I went back and read the six other posts about his six other birthdays. Here is what they said:

ONE: ...I spoke to you and wrote letters, not yet knowing your name. Secrets and stories and the way I felt carrying you around with me, everywhere I went. A road trip to San Francisco with you inside me, just the two of us.. We had just found out about you then so I quit smoking and chewed toothpicks with my hair out the window and the music up loud enough for you to dance. If I have not thanked you a trillion times, THANK YOU, once more. Thank you for sneaking in through my window and saying Boo! Here I am! Thank you for stirring and purring and screaming and crying and laughing and talking and standing and jumping. You are my exclamation point in a world of dot-dot-dots.
Archer's First Birthday
TWO: You still refuse to speak, but you have mastered the art of your own communication. Your little voice echoing through every room in the house, following the dogs, holding their tails in your dirty hands. And sometimes when you don't feel like singing you brush my hair, with a hairbrush or your hands or the TV remote...  I wonder if this time next year I will have forgotten all this, you with your red blankie in your arms falling asleep on my chest in the swing, feeding me crackers and then laughing when I make the "yum!" face...You are my favorite thing (or in a language you might be more familiar with) Gooyolackalackaheehee maliolalafoolapooha laheehee. Happy Birthday, Archer Sagebrush; Pirate of the Snails.
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THREE: ...And then you appear with scrapes on your knees and a half-eaten sandwich in your lunchbox and a Ziploc bag of homemade Play-Doh and yes, there you are. I remember now. You are growing up so fast I can't stand it. Needing haircuts often and demanding bandaids and kisses and growing more and more aware of your world. Like when you point to my belly and say, "Hi, baby" before turning away scowling, changing your mind: "No baby! I am baby?" "Yes. You are baby always." Because you always will be. Even when you grow so tall I have to stand on my toes to kiss your face
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FOURAccording to Wikipedia, the term "fore" when called out during a game of golf means to "look ahead" but I don't know how to do that. I never have. Instead I look at you. I look at your sister, your father, our family and when I'm not doing that I look back upon milestones and moments and memories like one might a collection of porcelain figurines. I turn them all over in my hands, blow the dust off their tails, press my face against the windows of retrospection and exhale. Hard enough so I can trace along the lines of your face in an evaporating cloud of moisture.That is how this blog started. And when you walk away and into your own story, that is how this blog will someday end.
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FIVE: A few months back Archer said to me, "everyone's going in a different direction but know what? Everyone's trying to get to the same place." He was referring to the cars at the four-way stop sign. But he was right. So completely and totally right and now? Whenever I find myself frustrated or angry at people, friends, strangers, even family - I remind myself that we're all going in different directions, trying to get to the same place. And then I feel better. Am able to empathize with people I used to misunderstand. Archer does that. He empathizes and understands and guides and says crazy perceptive things that change the way I see myself and the world.
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SIX: We're having a party for him next weekend but he didn't want to invite anyone from school, not even his best friends. He wanted a bouncie in the backyard with a slide and family only, no friends allowed... I love him so much for that. For being himself, little man stuck in the body of a boy who doesn't want to grow up, yet in so many ways already has. The other day he called himself my sun, told me his three sisters were like moons, that without him, there would be only moonlight, which is so totally true. Without him, there would be no us. No Fable. No family. No house. No nothing.
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Happy seventh birthday to the the child who made me a mother, the boy who made us a family, the one and only pirate of the snails. We love you with everything.
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GGC

82 comments:

Amber and Scott | 10:59 PM

I am blubbering crying alone in my house at 11pm after reading this, and oh, how I knew I would. I adore Archer. I think he knows things that no one else knows. He inspires me on a daily basis so I can't even IMAGINE what he does for you. Every single post you make about Archer brings me to the most beautiful kind of tears. I don't even know him, but you are so right -- his eyes tell thousands of stories.

Happy birthday, Archer. 7 is where shit starts to get real. Real awesome.

SpillingOutBeautiful | 11:02 PM

I love him so. I am in complete disbelief that he is seven years old. Happy Birthday Archer. I hope one day you know just how many people were truly impacted by your birth. But, until then, let there be cake.

Kim@Amommaly | 11:07 PM

As a mom of a middle child who just turned 8 last weekend, THIS TORE UP MY INSIDES.

In the best of ways, of course.

Beautiful.

Anonymous | 11:07 PM

Beautiful, simply.

Angela V | 11:07 PM

Happy Bday Archer. Beautiful post as always!

Ellie D | 11:14 PM

Happy birthday Archer, you wise, young soul. You have more than you could ever know.

Rae | 11:17 PM

This is so, so beautiful. My kids are going through their own growing revolutions and I totally get this. I also hated that Munsch book, (the only one I hated) but also kinda get it (a teeny bit) now.
Happy birthday to Archer!

Robyn....but call me Rob | 11:19 PM

Happy Birthday~ <3

Sarah | 11:21 PM

Beautiful Becca. Such a sweet soul

Sonja | 11:34 PM

2:26am on the east cost addressing invitations for my daughter's 3rd birthday because I can't sleep. I'll never forget finding this blog when it was just you and Archer. I had a son and you were two years ahead of me as a new mom. Then you had a girl and I had a girl, then I had another boy and you had the twins! This blog is such an amazing way to capture all the moments, pictures and thoughts that you're so afraid you'll forget, and my heart stopped a little when you mentioned "this blog will end." lalalala Thank you for letting us into your life and for getting to know your beautiful family. Happy Birthday Archer! I'm so glad you're the sun that brought all this to light and that I get to know you!

Alma | 11:58 PM

This is a beautifu birthday letter to your speacial boy. Mother of an eleven year old boy who is far from ordinary... I can relate to this. Thanks for the late night read and many happy wishes to your king!

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S i a c í | 12:19 AM

Happy Birthday, Archer Sage! Oh, what a cool dude you are, and how I admire you!

c is for cape town | 12:24 AM

Happy birthday Archer, and happy birthday to the mother in you.
Wowzer.

Sam | 12:51 AM

Happy Birthday, Archer Sage! I hope you feel better soon and enjoy celebrating with all the people who love you. Here's to another fantastic year full of cities and cars.

Happy 7th mum-birthday, Rebecca. :) Thanks for sharing your journey with us; it's been beautiful and difficult and just lovely.

Stef | 1:27 AM

Wow, have I been reading (and you writing) this blog for a long time! I loved the recap of all the previous ones; I remember them all except maybe the first one. Happy Seven, Archer!

Tove | 1:51 AM

Beautiful! Happy birthday to Archer and happy birth day to you!

Diana | 2:24 AM

Two months after the birth of my son I was feeling so isolated and yet overwhelmed with love that I wanted to shout from the rooftops, but without wearing out my friends with all the gushing. I googled "mom blogs" and yours came highly recommended by numerous websites. I couldn't imagine that one blogger could really be that fantastic, but decided to check out your blog anyway. You had your twins a couple of weeks before I had my son, and even though we are very different, I related to you in an instant. From that night I was hooked. I immediately bought your book on my iPad (thank god for instant gratification) and fell even more in love with your writing and your stories. Once I caught up on 2011, I delved into the archives and have now read ALL of your entires up to 2010. It seemed like whatever I was going through during the day, I would be reading about in an entry later that night. So, I too have read all of your previous birthday tributes to Archer, and feel like I have been on this journey with you for the past seven years. My son is a week shy of 8 months, and it's going so fast already. I know I will be in your shoes in the blink of an eye. Thank you for your poignancy and candor, and for keeping me company for the past 7+ months. Your children, and Archer - who started it all - are incredibly lucky to have you. Happy Birthday Archer Sage!

Maria | 2:35 AM

I cannot believe he's 7. I know it's silly but I started reading your blog when my son was born 3 years ago. I hadn't realized how long I had been following you and your beautiful family.

Thanks for sharing your experiences and writing so beautifully. Hope you all have a wonderful celebration with Archer. Happy birthday to him!

Katia | 3:59 AM

Awww man,why you makin' me cry...??? Happy Birthday, Littel man Archer!!!

Emily | 4:47 AM

Happy Birthday Archer!! Love your blog so much, I just recently caught up again and I can't wait to read what you have to say. Thank you for everything!

Anonymous | 4:54 AM

Just beautiful. Love.

Happy Birthday, Archer.

onesockmissing | 5:15 AM

I am about to take my oldest boy for his last day of Pre K. I was emotional anyway so a little cry was in order. Thank you for sharing so openly.
A very happy birthday to your sweet boy.
Michelle

Anonymous | 5:26 AM

I have been reading your blog for some time now. I am 26 and am not sure if I want to have children. Your blog, your words and your love for your kids make me rethink that choice. Thank you for that, I think it is something that I may need in my own life. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

rachel | 5:43 AM

Your firstborn and your stories of him are precious to us, your readers, too. I am always so touched to read about your insightful, amazing son. Happy birthday to him and to you!

Alana | 6:00 AM

Oh hello tears. Happy Birthday Archer!

Sarah | 6:12 AM

This post made me realize for how long I’ve been reading your stories: an awful long time for someone who is still dubious about kids and family life. And that’s because you manage to make parenting sounds like the worthwhile and profound human experience that it most certainly is. It doesn’t only make you a good mom and a great blogger; it shows a real literary talent. Few literary women were able to convey motherhood as well as you. And for that I thank you. And Archer.

Amelia | 6:13 AM

This is lovely and such an honest tribute. Part of the reason that most of us started blogging is to create an archive of our children's lives so that they can go back and really get a sense of their childhood through our eyes, but the other part of it is, I think, so that we can also have a way to show them that we were women, not just moms. It's possible that we're mothers first, but I like that all of the blogging community's children are going to have this vibrant archive of their mothers voices and observations. When your kids look back they will see someone who is fierce and articulate and truthful about her quest to deeply experience motherhood--that's such a gift.

For what it's worth, I just wrote about my marriage's 7th birthday--we think 7s are lucky around here, so I wish Archer (and you!) lots of luck and love in his 7th year.

Connie | 6:17 AM

Huh. I was right about Archer's age when I used to occasionally get totally freaked out about my parents' dying. I can remember thinking about it, and being so scared I would shake, so I'd run into our living room where my parents would be watching tv and I would climb into my dad's lap and they'd say, "We're here...we're right here..." until I probably fell asleep. I wonder if it's just that age where you start realizing that fear.

Happy momiversary, Honey. Celebrate your son, as we all do. :)

MamaMeg | 6:24 AM

This is lovely. Thank you for sharing. My oldest turns 7 in a few weeks time too. Many a day your words have spoken so loudly to me and tears have welled up in my eyes. Today, I am breathless.

jive turkey | 6:29 AM

Dear god, woman, I am weeping. At work. Beautiful, beautiful.

Brianne Drlich | 6:31 AM

I mean, that was just wonderful. Happy Birthday Archer! He is a lucky boy to have such a great mom!

Adina B | 6:43 AM

I so rarely comment although I read every word but this leaves my eyes moist. My two are 4 and nearly one, and you inspire me to document better/more this magical time. Happy birthday Archer!

dna | 7:01 AM

I'm not a crier, but you got me this time. I will never forget Archer. He is one of a kind. Happy Birthday Arch!

Lindsey L | 7:55 AM

Your posts give me chills, make me cry, and make me realize how precious life is.

Thankyou.

Samantha | 8:03 AM

So beautiful. I can not believe that he is seven. What an amazing kid.

Michelle | 8:27 AM

I ... wow. Just... wow, Becca. I'm sitting here, reading this while drinking a cup of coffee and out of nowhere I'm sobbing. I can't believe how big he's gotten and it makes me so happy to see that you don't take any of this for granted. You and your family are so blessed, and so very, very lucky. :)

Amy L. | 8:58 AM

I realize that you wrote this mostly for Archer, but I just wanted to let you know that I really needed this post today, so I guess in some way you wrote it for both of us. I've been reading your blog for over four years now and never commented.

But it's been rough around here too lately, and my sensitive, precocious microengineer son (familiar?) has been having nightmares about me too and now it all makes sense. He's trying to take care of me in his dreams. Thank you for opening my eyes to that.

P.S. I hate "I Love You Forever" too. Creepy factor: 10.

erinasmommy | 9:08 AM

Gah Bec, thanks for the tears! Happy happy birthday sweet Archer!

Marie-Ève | 9:09 AM

I've been reading since he was two (and my son one). Crazy how you get attached to people you don't actually see in real life (despite having met your and Archer twice). Along with many other readers here, I'm crying a little.

I love all your children, but Archer is... special. He just is. Happy birthday to him. So great to see him (and the girls) grow.

ColleenKranz | 9:18 AM

Beautifully written - HAPPY BIRTHDAY Archer!

Luna | 9:25 AM

When thinking of names for my old high school's newsletter, nothing else seemed to fit. Unexpectedly, Archer came to me as a puzzle to put together.

To make the story short,I've read Gibran's poem a few years back when I was a sophomore. Though inspiring, it wasn't until your post on how you named your boy that gave me the goose bumps!

A coincidence, you say? There's more. My old high school's mascot was a spartan. Every trace of his true strength revived through our confidence in making decisons.

Again, to make the story short, Archer was the one. It was a name which emerged my true last words before I graduated.

As for your Archer, Happy Birthday to the boy who inspires me in many ways!

Hippo Brigade | 9:26 AM

Holy shit that was rad.
Thank you for your words.
Happy birthday Archer, pirate of the snails.

jillian | 9:27 AM

I love your stories of Archer. This was simply beautiful. tThe 'all trying to get to the same place' line is just brilliant.

BookishPenguin | 9:32 AM

I read this this morning on my phone while watching my just-turned-two year old son play with his trains and wept my eyes out. I know it all goes so fast and sometimes you can't wait for parts to pass but I feel like there is a constant, ongoing, "No, no, don't move on yet" feeling I never know how to process.

This post is beautiful, as always.

Happy Birthday Archer Sage! You are forever inspiring.

Punk Rock Mom | 9:44 AM

Happy Birthday Archer Sage.

Priscilla Edwards | 9:57 AM

Weeping again at my desk because of your blog. Ha,its okay my boss just thinks it's menopause. Love you and your adorable family including your Mom. Thanks for sharing your life. You are a doll!

Tilly | 10:11 AM

Oh, my this is beautiful. He is lucky to have you as his mama.

Kelly | 10:36 AM

This makes my heart sing. Thank you for sharing this.

kelly | 10:41 AM

GGC - this blog brings me so much joy. I remember finding it when I was pregnant with my own little surprise and how it got me through... times.

Happy birthday to a very special boy who means many things to many people.

And happy day to you.

Even on the worst day, your family is lucky to have you, too.

xoxo

Vanessa | 11:07 AM

Happy Birthday Archer! I am now sitting here sobbing for no reason in particular other than the fact that Archer is so awesome. I know that you rarely post about him these days because he is older, and independent, and leads his own life and everything.. But I so love when you do.

Lisa | 11:25 AM

I'm crying now and I'm not even a parent. I can't imagine how a parent feels reading this. It's beautiful.
I first started reading your blog because of posts like this. I think it was the post about Archer and your grandmother that had me blubbering in the studio at work and bookmarking your site.
Thanks for another great post. And happy birthday to Archer.

glenda | 11:34 AM

Beautiful words for a handsome young man.

Love your writing. It captures me. Your words. xo

Thank you for sharing your life with all of us.

Happy birthday to Archer!

Angela | 11:57 AM

Beautiful. Inspiring. Your words and love for your children and honesty are amazing.
I totally relate to hating that Love You Forever book and then as my kids got older, I got it, but still sort of hated the book. But seriously, thank you for your writing. I love it.

Heather | 12:07 PM

Your comment about the Love You Forever book made me snort-laugh! You are so right on.

cora d | 12:19 PM

Sigh.

Happy Birthday, Archer.

Happy Mother's Day, Rebecca.

I read this post and both look forward to my girls growing up and despise that we will progress beyond the here and now.

My second girl is the one who snuck in and just changed it all.

Rambling in a poetic haze. Thanks for sharing.

Clandestine Road | 1:28 PM

What a sweet tribute. Happy birthday, Archer and happy Archer's birthday to you.

Angela

kip | 3:33 PM

You made me cry. Again! I'm thousands of miles away from my mom and I wish I was there with her at this very moment.

Tell Archer that in some cultures seeing a living person's death in your dream means that you've added more years to their life span. With each dream he'll make you live longer..

BusyMomofTwins | 3:36 PM

A beautiful post. So heartfelt and sincere. While my boys are only two I can absolutely understand how you feel as you are watching them grow. Thank you for making me think about all that I have not said (or written) to my boys. What a precious gift motherhood is.
Happy Birthday Archer!

Jackie Hall | 3:36 PM

I'm not sure why this post makes me want to cry like he is my child growing up. I have been honored to see snippets of each of your lives and have loved your open and honest ways. I love who Archer has become. It seem like yesterday that he wasn't able to speak. He had such wise things to say he speach had to catch up with what his mind was trying to get out. You are truely blessed with your Sun and three moons. Hope you had an awesome mothers day!

Anonymous | 4:25 PM

My son is turning 5 in a month and he has just started asking me about death. Who will die first, mommy or daddy? Do ants die too, mommy? I'm overwhelemed with the right words to say, how do I handle this. I read that godforsaken I love you Forever book and was balling hysterically through the entire thing. Calm the fuck down indeed! Sheesh. I love how you described that you are both caretakers of each other. So unbearly sweet. I love your writing, I love your family, thank you for sharing! Happy Birthday Archer! 7 sounds like an amazing age, what a wonderful year ahead!

Sarah | 5:13 PM

You speak to my soul when you write. You put into words how I feel sometimes about life, when I can't even explain it to myself. Beautiful words.

Anonymous | 5:17 PM

Sending love via the internet for both Archer and you, Rebecca! We love hearing your stories and relections; thank you for sharing your words.

Karen

Anonymous | 5:26 PM

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ARCHER!!! What a BEAUTIFUL "old" soul that he is. How lucky are you to be his mom, just as lucky as he is to be your sun. Archer....I hope your new year is FILLED with endless wonders, lots of questions & an never ending laughter!!! xo

Fondly,
Jenn from Canada!

Virginia-Ann | 5:49 PM

It does not seem possible that Archer is 7, but then again it does not seem possible that 2 of my 3 children are married, my baby is turning 21 and I am a Grandmother to a 2 1/2 year old.... I look back and in a blink another year has passed.
I remember being 12 and how it seemed like it took forever for me to finally be a real teenager. I thought that turning 13 would bring me a major transformation. Of course it did not, I was the same tall skinny dirty blond girl I was at 12. Enjoy the time spent blinking as he will be off to college before you know it.
Happy Birthday dear Archer!

Sarah BP | 7:13 PM

Happy Birthday Archer. As a mother of two sons, I know how special that relationship can be. Enjoy R!

Life's a Potty | 7:50 PM

Such a beautiful, gut wrenching truth. Yet, so lovely.

chesapeake | 7:12 AM

Happy Birthday, Archer!

And kudos to you; a kid like that doesn't appear in a vacuum. He gets talked to, listened to, involved in things with his parents. Bravo!

Colleen | 7:30 AM

Happy Birthday Archer!

I don't know why but your posts about Archer are always my favorites.

Marquesa Jen | 8:26 AM

Happy Birthday, Archer! My brothers turn 23 today (twinnies), so it's a good day for birthdays! May they all bring happiness and self awareness :D

robin | 1:07 PM

Good Lord, you know how to make a person cry. You are lucky to have him, and he is lucky to have you.

Anonymous | 2:49 PM

this post is so beautiful. thanks for your thoughtful and honest words.
happy birthday to archer!

Ray | 6:35 PM

Beautiful (AS ALWAYS)!!!!

Happy (belated) 7th Birthday, Archer Sage! You're amazing!!!! =D

P.S. The photo of the kids in the tub is gorgeous.

Amanda | 9:53 PM

How awesome would the world be if there were more Archers? Thanks for sharing him with us.

Happy Birthday, Archer!

Good Enough Mom | 7:28 AM

Lovely.

Melissa | 7:18 PM

So beautifully put. You made me cry. Happy tears, the type of tears that come when one mom can easily put herself in another's shoes.

Happy Birthday to your baby!

ELP | 6:34 AM

Happy 7th. Birthday to your Archer.
They grow too fast. My little girl is 3....more than 3 now . I want it all to slow down...

Mamalang | 5:55 AM

My baby boy is 9 1/2 and as he tried his mightiest to curl up into a tiny ball on my chest last night, I wanted to sob. I love that he still loves to cuddle and hug but I'm so sad that he's so big. And of course, so thankful that he is getting bigger :)

Happy Birthday to Archer. I hope your dreams get sweeter soon.

My Name Is Jonas | 6:16 AM

So beautiful. My oldest is empathetic and sensitive, he always senses what the adults are feeling, like a sponge. When I found out Robert Munsch wrote "I Love You Forever" for his wife after she had her second stillborn baby I hated him less for it. http://robertmunsch.com/book/love-you-forever
You're an incredible Mom Rebecca, Archer is lucky to have a Mother so in-tune with what makes him special.

Loukia | 1:16 PM

I was supposed to cry today at some point because my day was really sucking, but these are good tears, because this was just so damn beautiful. Thank you for being such an amazing writer, and always my favourite blogger of all. :) xo

Anonymous | 4:05 PM

I have a little 4 year old boy and your post here made me tear up like no tomorrow.

Anonymous | 2:54 PM

Rebecca, your posts always make me cry. You are so insightful and I always enjoy reading your blogs. Congratulations on having such a beautiful family!