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.

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.


262mom 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

shrink on the couch 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


Related Posts with Thumbnails