Well, here I am. I am old (no offense to those of you reading who have already celebrated this birthday!). I am a mom. I am so out of touch in so many ways already, and there's no use hiding it. I have no idea what bands are new or cool, because all that plays in our home and van are CDs and DVDs for children. My day to day life is swallowed up in diapers, talk about poop and who slept through the night, trips to Babies/Toys R Us, wondering how we ran out of milk again, and thoughts such as 'do they sell wipes in cases larger than what I'm able to find because I must use 100 each day?'. I have largely stopped following fashion trends (who has the time or energy?) and I am pretty sure I will have a hairstyle similar to the version I have now for the rest of my life, give or take an inch or two in length, a shade or two in color, and the occasional part flip.
Lest you think I've given up on myself, I have not. :) I am just conceding a point in certain areas of my life that call for sacrifice or less attention. Sometimes that is a hard pill to swallow. At least it has been for me lately.
But then I woke up today, on my birthday. And I was reminded of how small these things are in the grand scheme of life and like a vapor my concerns were gone.
My husband had a very large, gourmet cupcake with a pink candle waiting next to the sweetest birthday card (which gave me permission to eat a cupcake for breakfast because it was, after all, my birthday) on my nightstand. It was so nice to awaken to thoughtfulness from the person I love most in the world. It set the tone for my day. And as I smiled to myself I thought, 'Happy birthday to me!'.
Then Madeline rolled over for the first time, in the early hours of the morning. I retrieved her from her crib ON HER BELLY at 5:45am! We lay her down to sleep only on her back. What a sweet girl - she can't yet shop or pen her thoughts in a pretty card, but she certainly knows how to make her momma smile with the perfect gift on her big day. 'Happy birthday to me!' I thought, again.
Robbie and Ellie slept in and woke up as sweet and happy as can be. They greeted me with smiles and fits of laughter as they both held on to their crib rails and jumped furiously in their beds, yelling "JUMP! JUMP!", making me giggle along with them. No one had blown out their diapers in the night, there was no need to change crib sheets, getting dressed was a breeze, and they didn't bicker all morning. I am telling you - angel babies today. Sweetly telling me that they loved me, offering hugs and obligingly giving me kisses when I asked! And then enthusiastically going over to the nursing home dressed in their sunday best to spend a little time with Great Grandma Jessie, and behaving so well the entire time that I found myself thinking "Why don't we do this more often?" (the answer: because it NEVER goes this well!). Happy birthday to me!
My mom showed up this morning just to accompany us on whatever morning adventure we felt like we might be up for, and she arrived with my favorite Starbucks in hand as well as everyone's favorite donuts. She helped us at the nursing home, enjoyed lunch at Panera with us, helped me get the kids down for a collective nap, and then we sat together and talked while eating leftover birthday cake from our weekend celebration. Happy birthday to me!
There are stargazer lilies on my kitchen table that currently fill our home with the most pleasant aroma, and they are a reminder of my precious sister who drove them over last night even though she's sicker than a dog. She gave me a sweet card with heartfelt words like "greatest role model" and "mentor" and "friend", and I have to stop reading it because each time I pick it up I cry. To have a sister who is also a best friend is a very rare thing. She gifted me certificates for pampering and coffee with built-in babysitting, the best gift a young mom could ask for. Happy birthday to me!
All day long dear friends and family have sent me their birthday wishes and it has filled my heart to the brim. I remember the gift of time one of my dearest girlfriends gave to me yesterday as we went out to lunch together and how wonderful our uninterrupted conversation was. The days can be long and isolating as a young mom - they can warp your perspective and make you feel like you have less and less to offer with each one that passes. But I realize that those thoughts come from a worldly perspective, and one that has nothing to do with where I find my worth and value.
The Lord reminded me today (through each of you) that I am blessed, and I am deeply loved. And that my birthday should be less about planting another candle on my cake and what might be lost, and more about appreciating the life I've been given and all that is yet to come. To know that you are loved translates into a freedom to throw off worry and fear and insecurity and to see things for the way they truly are with spiritual eyes. It means that no matter what birthday it is, it is worth celebrating.
Many days I fall so short of the kind of woman I want to be, the kind I know He calls me to be. But I am thankful for new mercies every morning (even on birthday mornings that start out a little mopey!) and second chances that are more like 1,000th chances, and all the forgiveness and healing that He offers. I am thankful for the things that I've learned, grown from, and been given in this past year (namely our third child!), and I am looking forward to the next one with hopeful anticipation. Being 31 might sound old, but I think it just means that I have a greater capacity to love and forgive, a deeper appreciation for the sweet things in life, and the newly refined ability to embrace who I am and where I'm at without apology.
Happy birthday to me!