Independence Day

The Next Family

By: Heather Somaini

mother and daughter

I love the 4th of July.  It’s warm out, the food is generally being cooked by some burly man in an apron over an outdoor grill, and there are fireworks.  I mean really, what’s better than fireworks and men cooking for you over an open flame?  Fireworks make me think back to being a kid in Vermont.  My parents would take us to what was probably a small park but to me it felt like a gigantic field that went on for days.  I’m sure there were like maybe fifty people there but it felt like an ocean of people to me.  I remember that feeling on a summer night when the air is finally cool and the sun is setting, your skin still slightly damp from the day’s heat.  I always loved slipping into that jacket my mom always made sure I had and finally feeling warm; lying down on the blanket and smelling the cut grass.  It always felt like such a treat to be out so late with the grown-ups as if something very mysterious were happening at that time of night.  I’m sure mysterious things were happening – it was the 70’s in Vermont.

This year we’re celebrating the 4th at my parents’ house in the great state of Tennessee – I say “great” somewhat facetiously since they’re trying to ban the word “gay” there.  Is it possible to ban a word?  I’m sure we will be requested to engage in conversation about it while we’re there.  Not with my parents but instead with some random, slightly intoxicated retiree that is still trying to figure out how we conceived our kids.

But I really want to tell you about our first 4th of July as parents.  A few years before the babies were born, we went to a barbeque for some new friends of ours.  We had the best time.  There were lots of kids running around, great food, and we really enjoyed meeting an amazing group of similar-minded people.  Every 4th of July, we would attend this party and as every year passed, we felt worse and worse because they would ask us how the “fertility thing” was going.  It clearly wasn’t going well because we had nothing to show for it – no pregnant bellies and no babies.  They pitied us or at least we felt they did.  I’m sure they didn’t because knowing how busy parents are, they don’t have the time or energy to feel pity for anyone.

Our twins were born in early March and as July started rolling around, I asked Tere if she had heard from our friends about their party.  She hadn’t.  I couldn’t believe it – did our invite go into our email spam folder or something?  I mean, we couldn’t miss this party.  We had to show off our newly-hatched spawn!  We had to show them that we were finally successful, that we had created duplicates of ourselves, that we weren’t total failures at this thing that everyone around us did with ease!

We called and asked if an alligator had eaten our invite.  It hadn’t even gone out!  How dare they deny us our moment in the sun?  They “had” to have a party, otherwise our entire reason for existing at that moment was for naught!  Somehow we invited ourselves to our friends’ “very small” 4th of July party.  I swear I think we told them that the only reason we wanted to come was to show off the babies.  Luckily for us, the matriarch of that family desperately wanted to hold them.  We were in!

Tere and I spent the whole afternoon showing our 4-month-old creatures off.  It was awesome.  We beamed.  I dunked them in the pool.  They screamed.  Tere cried.  It was a hell of a day.

I was happy.  Sometimes you just need to show off your newly-hatched spawn to feel good about yourself.

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