Birthday Thoughts

Yesterday I became a year older. “Not a small achievement,” I thought to myself, considering I was convinced I wouldn’t make it past 40 years (I did, have, will continue).

Those were my silly 20-year-old thoughts. The ones you have where you look at your parents and believe them to be ancient. The ones where you can’t imagine growing ‘old’.

Of course, I am now older than my mother was when she became a grandmother. I am twice the age my father was when I was born. I don’t feel old, really, except when my back is sore and I’m limping along, but my mind is not that of a middle-aged woman.

My daughter doesn’t think I’m old. I’ve obviously modelled youthfulness to her. She doesn’t view being over 40 as a fate worse than death. She’s also good for my battle with body image. The thickening is happening and my inability to exercise is not assisting me in my battle to send it packing. She reminds me of all of the things I’ve said to her as she negotiates the maze of the 20s and the expectations on what women her age will look like.

There’s nothing more that I can share with you now. I need to keep things close for a while. I need to process the tumultuous times that have preceded my birthday, the twists and turns that have plagued my little family. We are all coming out the other side. Another year older, maybe wiser, not dead yet.

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Here is the delicious lemon meringue pie, made for me by my whizz-in-the-kitchen daughter, as birthday cake.

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This Euphoria Won’t Last, Will It?

Today I stand before you all as a mother of a 21 year old. It’s a big day for me and for the pup. She has survived 21 years in my care and I have survived the caring years. I remember when she was born, the post labour euphoria was amazing, and I stared in wonderment at the little life before me.

You might be thinking what’s all this survival stuff? Well, for all of you out there who have yet to have a child, I have a secret to let you in on; parenting is an endurance sport. Luckily, for me, I can see where my and the pup’s father’s endurance has started to reap benefits. It feels like an amazing accomplishment to have helped a small soul become a unique being, with their own will and thought and passion.

And the pup’s survival. Well, I was a complete novice at being a parent before I had her, and every step of the way was new to me. She continues to be my most enduring experiment. As she is my only child I can’t use any of the lessons I’ve learned from her on any other children. This is probably a good thing.

I’ve collected presents for her for this birthday over time, things that reflect her personality and taste, things that reflect the lovely person she is growing into, with interests varied and weird (but endearing). She asked me how I knew what to get her and then answered her own question, “because you’ve known me for 21 years?” To which I replied that I only know the bits she has chosen to show me. That she has many more facets to her than just her mother’s view of her.

She still tries to shock me, it’s not worked yet. If she actually went to university and completed a degree, that might do it (I’m ever hopeful of that shock). I’m trying to dare her to be her best self. I hope the next 21 years are a grand adventure, that she gives herself the chances to take, the challenges to surmount and the joys to cherish, and I hope I’m there to see them all along the way.

Strangely the euphoria hasn’t really worn off from that first moment I laid eyes on her. It’s ebbed at times, in those hard teenage years the euphoria was difficult to capture but it snuck through on occasions, showing in unexpected times, and now, watching the adult she is becoming, it’s just rumbling under the surface, swelling my heart and heightening of my senses. I grew this child. I helped make this adult. She is lovely and kind and smart and fierce. She is grabbing her life and making it hers. I’m so relieved.

A Birthday Poem For My Wife

A secret plan.
A furtive wrapping.
A celebration.

The cards say “Happy Birthday!”
“Birthday Greetings.”
“Many Happy Returns.”

The milestones of a life.
The markers of maturity.
The wrinkles in time.

The little gestures.
The thoughts that count.
The grand declarations.

All in the family.
Dinner plans with dessert.
A quiet evening in.

Settled on the couch.
Animals resting in the warmth.
Another year starts.