Today is the birthday of one of the greatest philosophers that has ever lived: Theodor Seuss Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss).
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You,” Dr. Seuss wrote in his 1959 book, Happy Birthday to You!
The man who got our picky eaters to squeal in delight over the eggs we made with green food coloring — and actually eat them — would have been 112 today.
My son Jack’s library is jam-packed with a collection of Seuss books, but there’s one in particular I just love to pieces. Horton Hatches the Egg explores solo single parenthood, adoption, and love. For little kids, bright photos and fun prose really bring this family dynamic concept home.
Here’s the gist: Mama bird Maysie is lazy and crazy! She gets bored sitting on her egg and decides to fly away to Palm Beach to chill out. It’s the worst babymoon ever.
The book, of course, got me thinking about my situation and what it was like to be in a relationship, then single and 11 weeks pregnant back in 2007. My son’s father moved to a different state and, let’s just say, seamlessly moved on minus a newborn to worry about. (My book Rattled! explores my unplanned pregnancy and leap into single motherhood.)
Mama bird Maysie sighs, “If I could find someone [to sit on the egg], I’d fly away free.”
After this sentence, I explained to Jack that the mama bird wasn’t sure if she wanted to be a mommy and of course he asked why. I told him sometimes people change their minds because they’re silly, or not ready, or have other/not better things to do.
“Like my father,” he said, unflinchingly.
“I guess,” I said.
When Horton the elephant came into the picture, Jack grew very curious. I told him that Maysie was done hanging out with her egg, but the elephant was here to stay and take care of the egg until it hatched, like me and his family that loves him so much!
Friends have confided their kids wonder if Jack’s dad is dead or if he even has one at all. I believe knowledge is power, especially when you’re young, so I told my friends they should tell their kids the truth about Jack’s father.
All families are different. Jack has a friend with parents who are divorced. She now has four parents, two step-siblings, and one half sister. Another friend has a mom, dad, and little sister. One friend lives with an aunt. My gay friends are the proud parents of a new daughter. My girlfriend has two fur babies — dogs that are just like kids, she loves them so much! The list goes on and on and on.
So, after Maysie abandoned her egg, Horton sat and sat, even when the other animals made fun of him. But Horton, like some single moms going through their unplanned pregnancies alone, promised himself and the egg that he would prevail — even in the rain or snow. Why?
“I’ll stay on this egg and I won’t let it freeze. I meant what I said and I said what I meant. … An elephant’s faithful one hundred percent,” Dr. Seuss wrote in the book.
One day, a few hunters kidnapped and sold Horton and his egg to a traveling circus. Soon, the circus ends up in sunny Palm Beach where that crazy mama bird Maysie happens to be relaxing and enjoying her new, child-free life. Dummy.
She can’t believe her eyes when she sees Horton and her egg — she wants her egg back. It’s ready to hatch and all the work is done!
Maysie is ready to fly away with the egg — when crack, it hatches.
The tiny creature doesn’t want Maysie — she wants Horton, the parent that didn’t leave — the one that stuck around even though it was hard.
The circus people couldn’t believe their eyes! “IT’S AN ELEPHANT-BIRD!!! … And they sent him home happy, one hundred percent.”
Just like Jack, our pup Lucy, and me.
Blood doesn’t always qualify you as a parent. A parent is someone who loves, honors, and protects their child. A parent is present.