Every 365 or so days here it comes again, like a taunting bully letting me know that yes, Virginia, there is another line on your face and dimple on your ass. My birthday. Sweet Jesus.
Now, I need you to understand something. I always LOVED my birthday. It was magical. My parents always made celebrations fun and exciting. I remember the year I got the Timex Cinderalla watch (9). I remember the year I had a Mexican fiesta party and my parents didn’t know you had to actually put candy in the piñata–I grew up in Tulsa where piñatas are not an every day occurrence. So we got to pound the hell out of a paper donkey AND jump for candy as it was thrown in the air (albeit 30 minutes later after someone got back with a huge bag of candy from the TG&Y). I loved my birthday.
Then, I dated a guy we will call Evil Bob. Once Evil Bob came into the picture, the birthdays became curs-ed events. On my 30th birthday, I received a fedex envelope with what had once been a dozen roses. Do you have any idea what a trip from New Jersey to Oklahoma in an ENVELOPE does to a dozen roses? It turns them black. That is not what a girl wants to open on her 30th birthday. That right there will turn a frown upside down, and that was the beginning of the end of my association with Evil Bob.
Then there was the year my husband disappeared all day leaving me to take care of the kids and the house, while he painted pictures of promises of sugar plums and fairies, only to arrive home with an unwrapped box of money (don’t get excited, most of it was in ones) as the birthday prize. Stripper money. Believe me, there was no stripping that night.
On my 40th birthday, my normally wonderful husband was working out of town while I was home with a five week old, a five year old and a fifteen year old. He had been out of town for two months and I couldn’t drive yet after a C-section. However, I had planned ahead a bit and had the ingredients to create my favorite strawberry cake for my 40th birthday treat. Happy birthday to me, soggy, sweet-milk smelling me. Everything was going beautifully–I nursed the baby and got him down for a nap long enough to actually make and bake the cake. It came out beautifully, and because the baby was still sleeping–oh miracle of miracles–I flew too close to the sun and decided to take a hot shower. With a towel-turban on my head and my comfy slippers on, I came out to the kitchen to check on the cake and start whipping up the yummy icing when, what do I see? Yes, it is our dog eating my birthday cake. She had eaten one end of the beautiful strawberry cake. Did I cry? Yes, I will admit it, I started crying like a girl. But I am nothing if not resourceful and I was not going to let a little thing like a big dog stop me from celebrating my entry into TRUE adulthood with grace and dignity. So I did what any self-respecting woman would do and I cut off that end of the cake, made the icing, slapped it on the cake, stuck in four candles–one for each decade–and ate that cake with my children that evening. Okay, so that wasn’t such a bad birthday and it does make a great story.
Cut to now–I have one more child, but now they are all in school and one is even getting ready to graduate from college this May. No one wears diapers. Everyone can basically keep themselves alive on a daily basis–they can go to the bathroom, cross the street, brush their teeth all by themselves. These are all good things. Which means that it is time for me to focus on me (a little bit, don’t get crazy) again. Time to get back into shape. Time to find what I really want to do when I grow up. And turning 48 tomorrow just underlines that I now have only TWO YEARS to do SOMETHING. Because 50 is when I will really, officially, be a GROWN UP. Not practicing, not learning and re-learning lessons.
While the fact that I’m having a birthday is, tritely, a good thing–better to be above ground than below, hardy har har–the feeling is sort of like what I imagine a woman’s biological clock might sound like. . .a slow but steady drum, drum, drumming in your heart and your head that says something _________ this way comes. The blank is there because it’s just that–a blank as to what’s on the horizon. That can be exciting and exhilarating and scary all at the same time. I’d like to say I have a plan, but I don’t. I’d like to say there is a method to my madness, but there’s not. Maybe that’s what being an official card-carrying grown up looks like. Someone who can roll with the punches and ride with the tide, plan or no plan.