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By Shelley Murphy
Leap Day occurs just once every four years, so its arrival this month is worth celebrating. In a leap year, an extra day, or leap day, is added on Feb. 29.
The purpose of a leap day is to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun by synchronizing the calendar year with the solar year.
On Feb. 29, “leapers”—or “leaplings”—can relish the rare occasion of celebrating their birthday on their actual birth date. Folks born on a leap day like to say they are young at heart, which helps explain a middle-aged leaper claiming to be 10 instead of 40 years old.
Some cultures celebrate leap year, and others consider it an ominous occurrence shrouded in superstition.
Couples in Greece avoid getting married in a leap year, as it’s believed to bring bad luck and divorce.
In Scotland, it’s considered unlucky to be born on Feb. 29, and those born on the day are thought to live a life of suffering.
On Feb. 29, I’ll be celebrating the day, but I’ll find myself navigating uncharted territory.
This weekend, my husband and I will visit our older son, who lives in the Bay Area. I’m eager to see my son, and in our latest conversation, we discussed possible plans for the trip.
Our talk turned to restaurants, and that’s when my son asked if we’d like to have dinner with him and his girlfriend—and her parents.
(Let me be quite clear: this is a dinner party, not an engagement party. My son assures me if, or when, a betrothal befalls, I’ll be the first to know.)
The invitation caught me by surprise, but in retrospect, it’s time to mark this rite of passage. My son and his girlfriend started dating a couple years ago, and they seem serious. And recently, my son started swapping his pronouns. He now says “we” instead of “I” and “us” in lieu of “me,” which I see as a sign of a committed coupling.
I remember introducing my parents to my husband’s parents, and it’s indeed memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.
My mother-in-law is a nice lady, but after divorcing my husband’s father, she remarried, and her second husband was, shall I say, eccentric. Our dinner was as awkward and strained as I’d feared. Suffice it to say, our group never dined together again as a sextet.
My son doesn’t seem apprehensive about our approaching dinner date, but I’m sure he’s somewhat anxious. After all, as a mom, embarrassing my kids is part of my DNA.
Truth be told, my son might have cause for concern; I’m not practiced at the art of meeting the parents.
When my boys began dating, we’d lived in our village-by-the-sea for most their lives. And so, I knew countless parents from sporting events, school functions and social gatherings. There was never a need for formal introductions or family dinners.
By the time my kids got to college, I abided by a strict “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and embraced the mantra “ignorance is bliss.”
I knew my dream world of denial would someday end and that this day would come, but I didn’t think it would come so quickly.
It feels like days, not decades, ago my beloved little boy and I walked hand-in-hand to the door of his kindergarten classroom. As we neared his classroom, I readied myself for an emotional and arduous goodbye.
We arrived at the doorway of the kindergarten room, and my son dropped my hand like a bad habit. He ran toward the students in the center of the room, without once looking back, as I stood silent in the doorway.
I knew then that he’d boldly blaze his own trail in life, and later hoped he’d someday find someone to share the adventure.
On Feb. 29, I’ll leap at the invitation to celebrate a memorable milestone with my son.
Shelley Murphy has lived in San Clemente with her husband for the past 21 years, where she raised her two sons. She’s a freelance writer and has been a contributor to the San Clemente Times since 2006.