Yesterday was my birthday. And, while I am slowly snowballing years until I get old, it still excites me. I don’t mean in a cool way, like, yeah, it’s my day. I mean like a five year old the night before Christmas, I can’t sleep, oh my gosh, it’s coming! Yep, exactly that nerdy. But still, it’s true.
So it finally arrived yesterday, filled with promise. The sun was shining, which for a Pacific Northwest day in February, was almost miraculous. It was beautiful. The sky was a poetic shade of blue. Something I have never seen on my birthday in all my past 34 years.
I started the day with lots of hugs and cuddles from the five sweet little (to me) babies that call me Mommy. Is there really a better way? My sister bought me breakfast and a coffee that I couldn’t make if I tried. Then I spent the next few hours cleaning my house. That part was a little trickier, and took lots of reminding myself that I am grateful for both our home and the little and big mess-makers with whom I share it.
I set the table formally, with all things breakable, and the new set of cloth napkins that I had purchased last weekend. See, I know how to party. Ahem. Anyway, my spirits were buoyed by the fresh flowers that I had placed all around the dining an living rooms. I love fresh flowers, they are one of my very favorite of things. I feel like they bring life and Spring into a home. If you have a table with a nice tablecloth and fresh flowers, I feel like it proves that life is beautiful and good, and that you are blessed enough to have someone to enjoy it with you, probably.
By then it was time to go pick up my oldest 3 kids. My mother had joined me, so off we went. Then it was errands, which were blissfully filled with interrupting phone calls from some of the people I most love, singing off key, just because they love me. It’s a sound I wouldn’t trade for the world’s best symphony.
But somewhere between Costco and the bank, my children lost their minds. Suddenly the back two rows of my minivan, where like the last day of Burning Man. It was all tantrums and yelling, with lots of I Want Juice! There was licking each other on the cheek, and pleas for personal space. Then came the hitting. I was a nanny and a preschool teacher before the last decade of working with foster children. If there is one thing my children know, it’s that hands are not for hurting. (And also that I love them. I sincerely hope.)
Still we pressed on, towards a purchased cheesecake and The Good Dinosaur BluRay. Then home where I made a feast of a dinner. To say that it didn’t go exactly as I planned from there, well that is definitely an understatement. But still, we are a hearty people, and now the party had grown to my best friend and her three kids, by the time my husband was home. We soldiered on. Which, in hindsight, is not being dramatic. An eight child war was raged against my clean house, as Mother Nature made a visit to ensure my emotions were an equally large mess.
By the time that I turned off the kids movie, and not so subtly let everyone know that it was time to leave, my shaking voice had already let them know that the party was, indeed, over. After an hour plus of setting things to rights, I went to bed angry, refusing to voice my frustration and hurt.
It wasn’t what I wanted, and certainly not what I had planned. But mostly because I quit being grateful during the riot in my minivan. I was Veruca Salt, at 35, and let me tell you, she hasn’t aged well. I was so focused on soldiering on that I forgot that so much of my strength is in my softness as a mom. A birthday is not something that we have to get done. It is something to celebrate with the people you love.
I see that now, from my one day wiser vantage. And I see all the little things that went better than I thought. How my friend brought over flowers and an amazing, keep it till you die because of what it says, card. How she left them like a treasure for me to find. How even today another friend stopped by. Dropping off gifts, and showing how well she knows me. I am surrounded by the finest humans I can imagine. I have friends and acquaintances that generously welcome me. All of me, not just the nice bits, or the parts of me I want them to see. I am shown everyday another example of how to love properly, and reminded that people are worth loving.
And while I someday might win the lottery, buy a different house, and hire a fulltime housekeeper, that’s just not my reality. Also, I don’t play, which makes winning more unlikely. But for now, this is it. My lot in life. And I have to say, it looks pretty good, in this light.