I am 8 days into my 44th year. I intended to write a post on my birthday … but I couldn’t. I have always been moved to write and find that when I force myself it usually becomes an episode of me sitting in a chair bouncing up every 5 – 10 minutes to feed the dog, change the laundry, let the dog out, go to the bathroom, make lunch, check email, pay the bills, fold the laundry … and ends in a very low word count with very high frustration. It works best when it comes to me organically. So I waited. I waited for 8 days.
Then when I was driving home from the gym today I realized something. When I was younger my birthday was potential: expectations for excitment, surprises accompanied a buoyed feeling of being older. Don’t get me wrong – I am not hung up on my age (although I am less fond of the “11” wrinkle I have between my eyes than I ever have been before) – I don’t mind the years piling up, but my birthday no longer carries the same (exciting) potential for me. It’s not necessarily exciting, or surprising. It’s pleasant, but I’ve changed. Now, it carries with it the potential to evaluate, reminice and learn.
This year I spent my birthday at the funeral for a dear friend’s dad, driving over 3 hours round trip to make it there for an hour, just to hug her. I was lucky enough to sneak in a lunch with my Dad, Second-Mom and sister, and a too brief visit with an old friend – but the day was largely taken up with…life.
These days my birthday provides me a time of reflection – something I don’t always have the luxury of – and imagining. Imagining the changes that are coming, imagining who I will be in 5 more trips around our sun. This year, marking the life of a good man and comforting a woman mourning his loss so profoundly (who I love dearly) felt fitting. Changes are coming, and it began me thinking of how I have already changed and what I have learned.
I have learned that forgiveness must be earned, not demanded. I have also learned that one of the single greatest powers we possess in our humanness, is forgiveness.
I have learned that there are always two sides to a story – even if we don’t want to believe it or hear it.
There is more than our view.
I have learned that I don’t always have to be right, and that being right often costs me much more than being wrong.
I have learned that I love red wine.
I have learned that I can’t control everything.
I have learned that my mind and body are powerful and strong. That I can choose how to react.
I have learned that I will probably always have a spare athletic cup in my purse.
I have learned the strategy behind a drag bunt.
I have learned that my boys disappoint me sometimes. They are not perfect. I am not perfect. I have learned that it doesn’t mean I have failed, it means we are human.
I have learned to trust my boys decisions, when they are thought out and passionate, even when it goes against what I want.
I have learned that if I say “No, we can’t get hermit crabs, we don’t know how to take care of them.” Jackson will hand write a three page, single spaced, essay on how to feed, care and purchase hermit crabs – along with a list of supplies including cost and tax.
I have learned that hermit crabs are kind of cool.
I have learned what a wing T is.
I have learned what it means to jump the goalie.
I have learned that sitting in a tree blind is really difficult for me. I really can’t be quiet that long.
I have learned that if I am frustrated or grumpy I need one of two things: sleep or exercise. Sometimes both.
I have learned that I need a dog in my life.
I have learned that walking is my best therapy. Walking on a beach is perfection.
I have learned that I have little patience for people who are not authentic, genuine. One of my greatest strengths is being transparent (as usual a double edged sword), if I don’t get that back from you I’m not likely to invest much time, and I’m even more likely to become very distant.
I have learned that I can finish something I set out to do. Love, Red is one of my greatest accomplishments.
I have learned to think before I speak. Most the time.
I have learned that I will never love shoes, unless they are flip flops. Never have. Never will.
I have learned that the greatest decision I ever made was marrying my husband.
I have learned how to serve dinner to 50 hungry football players – and have learned how to enjoy their thank yous when it’s over.
I have learned how to juggle our ever busy calendar. I have learned that people will compete with you about whose busier … odd, but true.
I have learned that my favorite people in the world are the 4 boys I live with.
I have learned that, to date, I have never been more nervous in my life than watching my 16 year old bat at the World Series. Ever.
I have learned that broken bones heal.
I have learned how to stand up for myself – usually without throwing a fit – sometimes with.
I am looking forward to my 44th year and learning more about myself and my boys and E. I am looking forward to handeling this year’s challenges and reveling in its victories. Last fall I switched cars from a Lincoln to a Jeep. One of the greatest compliments I ever got was when Jackson jumped in the Jeep with me on a late fall 70 degree day and said, “Momma, the Jeep suits you so much better than the other car. This car is way more fun, way more you.” I look forward to living up to that perception. Bring on 44.