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Vail Family Matters: Birthdays inspire mom to reflect

Jill Marchione Papangelis
Family Matters
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –Before I had kids, my piano, my beach and the quest for the perfect fitting pair of jeans were at the top of my priority list. Things changed when I had my first son, but not too drastically. He was like me, and so easy-going and flexible I just took him along with me wherever I went.

The second one though, the one turning 17, changed me more (and I don’t just mean my bathing-suit body). He was a stickler for schedules, wanted everything in order and panicked if we were out too late (my mother’s genes?). He also had a tiny case of separation anxiety (well, replace the word tiny with colossal and anxiety with the words stomach-clenching, eye-bulging trauma). He is my serious one.

When he was small, it was not uncommon for me to back out of the driveway and proceed down my street only to glance into the rear-view mirror and see my son chasing after my car.-



During his first year of little league, I was attending one of his games as usual, and unfortunately got thirsty. I started to walk around the fields to the “snack shack” to get a drink and, out of the corner of my eye, saw my son drop his glove, race through his game, through two games on the next field, and all the way to the concession stand to make sure I wasn’t leaving. Coaches were not pleased. Parents frowned.

I made middle-of-the-night rescues from attempted sleep-overs at friends’ houses. The idea of a sleep-over always seemed better to him during the day, but I still let him try it out. Funny, even now, he often tells me he’s staying over at a friend’s house, but around midnight I’ll hear the garage door open as he “sneaks” back into our house to sleep in his own bed.



These little things seemed so detrimental at the time. I remember during potty training, a friend told me to just be patient – it happens eventually. There aren’t too many 18 year olds out there who aren’t potty trained. So true. I wish I had spent less time worrying then. I could have saved up for now.-

He’s matured a lot since those years. Particularly grown up is his taste in birthday presents. I miss the days of filling my Target cart with Legos for $150. The perfect gift now has to do with the Apple Store and a car dealer.-

He’s gone from meat worshiper to vegetarian, but in so many ways is still the young boy he, I guess, will always be to me. One more year to have him every morning and every night seems too short. But, luckily, my cup runs over with memories.-



I remember how much he wanted a room of his own and, when he finally got it, how he still crawled into bed with his older brother every night. I remember how he begged me to take his sister back to the hospital when she was just five days old. I remember when he wanted to paint his fingernails pink like mine, his first swim in the ocean, his first time on skis. I wish I remembered every day. I’ve certainly tried.-

Because I began the motherhood thing at such a young age (before I could legally drink), some people tell me I missed out on a lot of adventures. I don’t feel like that at all. He is my adventure, as are my other two sons and my daughter. I’ve learned so much from each one. Growing them up grew me up too.

On each of my children’s birthdays, I have a celebratory glass of Champagne just for me. The ritual takes me back to congratulate myself for that hospital day, long ago, when I brought someone remarkable into the world. I appreciate how miraculous that feat really is. Makes me full of pride for my own mom – and all parents.

Happy birthday, Doran. I know you’re nearly an adult but, occasionally, I still look for you in my rearview mirror.

Jill Marchione Papangelis is a freelance writer and mother of four. She lives in Edwards with her family. Send column suggestions or comments to-jillscolumn@gmail.com.


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