Birthdays and Memories
I celebrated a birthday over the weekend.
Alas, if you didn’t know, there are no hard feelings, friend. I will still accept your belated-and-heart-felt wishes, be they by text, email, or in the form of a gift dropped in the mail (or delivered to my door). Let me know if you need my address ;)
Growing up, birthdays were always a day of celebration in my family.
I was a child of the 80’s and 90’s which means it was before the day of parents researching on Pinterest months in advance for recipes, favors, and decoration ideas. We didn’t go to indoor bounce houses and I can only remember two parties (the pictures of which I’m hoping were burned, or destroyed in a house flood). Typically it was a home cooked meal and a Betty Crocker boxed cake with the disgustingly thick frosting that you scooped out of a plastic tub.
We didn’t do anything extravagant (hello, I’m the oldest of five children!) But birthdays were a celebration of the individual. It meant you picked the meals, the dessert, shirking your chores and opening presents. It was the one day in 365 that I didn’t have to share things— that I was made to feel special.
My husband, bless him, when we got married, had no earthly clue that this one day each year meant so much to me. We’ve been married for over a decade, and there is still strife regarding this sacred and most holy day. I want to be doted on and cherished. I want to wake up to a glorious sunrise and enjoy a day of no chores and no responsibility… but the reality is more like my kids jumping on me, or rather jumping over me to get to daddy. They love him deeply— but one day, after they’ve birthed their own offspring, they’ll love more.
I’m closer to 40 these days than I am to 25 (a fact that eluded my same-age husband until very recently). But, on the day of my birth, I might as well be six. Because I want to have my cake and eat it too. Along with a big scoop of ice-cream, a donut, some delicious coffee and a gourmet meal… or three (all of which is declared “birthday food” meaning non-fat, no calories, whole30 and whatever other term sounds healthy).
In reality, most years the day is celebrated in the midst of normal life: kids waking up at unholy hours and crying and whining all day because of their need for food, comfort and sleep. My husband and I have never whisked each other away for romantic getaways (although, a girl can dream). One day, maybe.
Until then there are plenty of birthday breakfasts with all of us getting crumbs in my bed and handmade cards of construction paper and crayons that I treasure and keep in a box under the bed. And though my kids dwindle the bank account and since they came along I’ve started sprouting gray hairs, they make birthdays that much sweeter.
I want my kids to grow up watching me celebrate each passing year, not grumbling about “how old I’m getting”. I want them to know that life is to be lived and not wished away, or spent in aguish and regret over what “could have been”. I want to model for them what it means to cherish the years, regardless of failures, setbacks, and fumbles. I want them to hear my share my goals for the next year as well as my list of things to be grateful for in the one that has passed.
Last year we endured some painful moments; there were some dark and difficult months. Yet when I look back there are also sweet memories worth sharing and goals that I worked hard to achieve. Here are a few of the highlights:
- I reconciled the relationship with my mother and she spent Thanksgiving weekend with me (it’s been a couple decades of drama)
- I made a commitment to have consistent date nights with my husband (our marriage has never been better!)
- I ran my first 1/2 marathon
- I saw the Grand Canyon (a bucket list item)
- I road-tripped to Colorado and back with my family (collecting a whole list of “thankfuls”)
- I visited family in Mexico and Canada
- I attended a conference where I met Influence Network friends and where God confirmed that I should be pursuing the dream of writing full-time
- I started homeschooling our girls
- I quit my day job to pursue a dream
- I wrote and released my first ebook: “Enough” (you can download it here for free if you haven’t already)
- I started getting my words published online: Relevant, Crosswalk.com, Christian Post, Thrive Moms
- I taught my daughter to read and tie her shoes
Some of these were pretty big accomplishments and others more like the footnotes. But they are all worth celebrating. And friend, I hope that when your birthday arrives this year you will also have a list full of memories and moments to savor.