Tuesday, July 7, 2009

michelle, my belle

On Being A Big Sister


I kicked & pinched the boy who followed me around the playground
chanting "Your mom is pregnant!"
because I was excited, at almost-9, to have a pregnant mom
even though I knew in the dark secret don't-you-dare-picture-it back of my mind
what that meant my parents had done.

I don't remember thinking about whether I would prefer
a baby brother or sister.
I just wanted someone, finally, to share the crazy love
that was our family.

When my parents said I could choose a name, I felt a little panicked.
I alternately hated & loved my own name - how to pick something
that would only be loved?
I settled on Michelle, for my good friend who was funny & sweet & silly & strong.
And for The Beatles song that had French words in it,
sung by Paul
who was funny & sweet & silly & strong.

I'm sorry it became everyone's favorite name
because even though that meant you would never not find
a personalized notebook or key chain or miniature license plate,
it condemned you to being always attached to our last initial
in classes filled with Michelles.

My naming you, I see now, was only the beginning of many small sorrows I would unintentionally inflict.
I thought by being nine years older, teachers would forget about me
and let you be quietly you.
I thought by offering to set up your Barbie houses & design Barbie outfits, it would be alright
if I didn't actually play Barbies.
I thought by flunking out of college my freshman year, our parents would appreciate
how capable and smart and thoughtful you were.

Yet
you have risen above all the inadvertant obstacles I created
to claim your own name, games, and place -
though you have matched my reasons for calling you
what I did.
Maybe I was supposed to be in your way
all this time.



Happy birthday, my Michelle. Love you so.

6 comments:

marathon mom said...

You did not flunk out of your freshman year did you??!! They just weren't ready for you. Great tribute - great writer no matter what fish year was like.

Stu said...

Happy Birthday Shel

phd in yogurtry said...

Being named by my big sis, after a Beatles song? Worth the hassle of such a popular name. It's a beautiful name, to boot.

Happy Birthday BadMom's sis!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Both my daughters have that middle name (oldest was allowed to pick for youngest--who knew she liked it so much)?

I'm sure having you as a big sis has rocked in many ways.

Suzanne said...

Happy Birthday, Michelle!

~michelle said...

How have you been in my way?

Thanks for the tribute :)
Very lovely!

love you bunches!
-lil' sis

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