When I think about my birthday, this picture is etched in my mind. For some reason I remember everything about it. The bundt cake my Mom made. The taste of the ice tea. Mawmaw. Bob. Kathie. Dingo.
It was an absolutely perfect birthday.
Yesterday I completed my 47th trip around the sun. If all goes according to plan I have 61 to go. When people ask me how long I want to live, I say — “108. The age of the yogini.” A yoga teacher said that once and it stuck. I miss her. I miss yoga. I miss that 60-90 minute escape to the inside.
My 60 Days on the Mat has been replaced by 365 days making breakfast, making lunch and wondering about dinner. I feel like I live a daily episode of Iron Chef — without the part where I am actually a chef with any real culinary skills to feed these people. I love to look at cookbooks — as in they look great on the shelf — but using one? And the word iron is not even in my vocabulary. I don’t know what that is.
The judges in my episode of Iron Chef often throw the food back at me. They can’t even bother tasting before hurling it while yelling, Yuck!
When I decided to have these kids no one told me how often they needed to eat. Anyone who knows me knows a cheese plate with a little baguette and wine is a perfectly acceptable dinner … seven nights a week.
This morning I woke up like I do every morning. Jonathan was asleep and the boys are not yet old enough to understand my birthday. After all I am not running around telling everyone I want a train birthday party like they are. I do miss my Memom on my birthday. She was always the first person to leave me a message, usually at around 6:00am when I lived in California.
The years are short but the days are long.
When the boys were born someone said this to me and I was so busy pumping breast milk I never gave it much thought. But this morning as I warmed a croissant for the boys it started to wash over me. How fast it’s all going and how much I am forgetting.
When I stare at them I see this:
Some days are insufferably long and yet it seems like I turned 46 a month ago. It seems like a lifetime ago when the boys wore those overalls and yet I see those faces every single day. Just like that. Even as they hurl things at me and say, yucky!
Years feel like months. Months feel like weeks. Weeks feel like days. Days feel like hours. Hours feel like minutes. Where does it all go?
Jackson pulls on my pajama pants and says, “I love Mama,” as he gives me a big kiss followed by the words, “Big kiss, Mama.” My heart melts. James runs with a picture he has colored and hands it to me beaming. “Big kiss, Mama.” My heart melts.
When they do this my heart melts.
I pray every day that they always do this.
Jonathan forces me to go for a massage. My knots melt.
My heart melts at some point every single day. My knots take a little more focus.
If I did not have all of these J’s grounding me I would most certainly have imploded long ago. That person who spent all that time on the mat has been temporarily replaced by a woman driving a bush hog. Of course, I have no idea how to operate a bush hog, but I watched my Mawmaw wreak havoc on entire fields summer after summer. She would often end the day saying, “I’m too tired to worry, Tige.”
I now know what that means too. In my world it means, “Okay. You can have goldfish for dinner just this once.”
It’s been one hell of a year. I’m not prepared to say it was great. I’m not prepared to say it wasn’t. Sometimes you don’t realize how great something was until you get the hell out of the middle of it.
What I can say is it was hard. Challenging. Lonely. Surprising. Scary. Maddening. Joyful. Chaotic. Exhausting. Uninspiring. Inspiring. Mundane. Extraordinary. It was all of that and so much more — but the one thing it was not was relaxing. It was never relaxing.
I’m wondering if when you become a parent you can ever really relax again?
When I finally got around to scrolling my Facebook feed and reading all of the birthday wishes I was flooded with memories. I had people who have known me since birth and some people I have never met face to face. People from every chapter of my life showed up to remind me of the road I have traveled. People sent me best birthday wishes from Bangladesh to Japan to Turkey to Lubbock, Texas.
I was reminded of Dunn Elementary. Young Junior High. CATS. Arlington High School.
Sleepovers at the lake house. Summers in Arkansas. Skiing in Colorado. Learning to water ski.
Boston Conservatory. My first apartment. My first kiss.
Getting stoned on a beach in Maine. (Can I get arrested for saying that now?)
Milwaukee. Boomer. Guido. Astoria. New York City. Los Angeles.
Meeting Jonathan. Giving birth.
Meeting all of these people who have now become a part of my family. I was reminded of some friends and family who are gone. Especially those that never made their 47th trip around the sun.
And when I think about that, I try to let go a little bit in my shoulders. Hug all my boys a little tighter, kiss my husband a little longer … shave my legs and put on some lip gloss.
I hate to admit that these last two items are events.
When I was a kid I often wished that everyone I loved could live on the same block. Sort of like Knots Landing, only bigger. And my cul-de-sac was on a lake with lots of hammocks.
There’s really nothing better than a long overdue chat with a friend, a really good book made of paper, a sturdy hammock, children laughing and a breeze coming off the lake.
I’ll let you know when I find all of that in one place.
I heard from lots of people on my cul-de-dac yesterday. Little did I know to imagine how it would ultimately extend to here and yonder — and beyond. So thank you for taking that little window of time to wish this old gal happy birthday. It meant a lot and I hope when your next trip around the sun comes to an end I will stop long enough to do the same. I make no promises, but I will try.
In the meantime could all of you stop telling me the boys are going to be starting high school next month and off to college before I know it. I am starting to believe you.