Downstairs making lunches for my children in the early morning hours, it was already apparent that there was something special about this day. The hard boiled eggs easily shed their skins. The peanut butter had a lovely oily sheen. I had enough vanilla yogurts to go around. Making lunches was never this enjoyable. Even waking my kids and watching them drudge themselves from their slumber took on a rose colored hue. They looked young and gorgeous. Even I didn’t look half bad as I gazed at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. Okay, the lights were off, but whatever.
Maybe it’s because today is my birthday. I am 43. Wow, that sounds old. 43 is a woman with short hair and 10 extra pounds in mom jeans, not me. Although, I can’t say the gym clothes I’m sporting on a daily basis will be seen in Vogue anytime soon. And I have recently gained a few pounds. Crap.
Well, I certainly don’t feel 43. I mean, sometimes I feel 100, but certainly not 43. On most days, I think I settle in nicely around 31, although for the record, 27 is the age to be… not so young as to still be in some back alley throwing up your fourth margarita and accompanying nachos on your borrowed overpriced shoes, but not so mature that you limit the potential of your own possibility. But 43… Wow, again. I seem to be stuck now obsessing over the number. I can’t move on. I can’t look away. I need to get it out of my head. 43434343434343434343434343. That’s better, for some reason now all I see is 34. I’ll take it.
Something about birthdays make you feel very young and hopeful, like there’s a surprise waiting for you around every corner. They also can make you feel very old, like when you realize, there are no surprises anymore, only kids who couldn’t bother to even make you a card and a husband who didn’t take the early train home, and spent the night watching the Yankees.
But that was last year.
This year, I’m taking control of my birthday and not leaving it in the hands of amateurs. I’ve scheduled my annual physical this morning. I thought it was a positive way to start the year. After that, I’m heading straight to the gym. Then I’ve got a massage appointment, followed by lunch with friends. I love it already.
My husband walks in the kitchen where I’m finished with the lunches and have started giving the boys breakfast. “Happy birthday, Mommy!” he booms. “Did everyone say happy birthday?” Three sleepy heads lift. A muted chorus of unenthusiastic “Happy birthday, Mommy” dutifully follows.
“That’s it?” My husband bellows. “That’s all Mommy gets?” That woke them. Immediately, three bodies attack me with hugs viscous enough to suffocate a small animal. I beam. That’s more like it.
I’m totally feeling the glow, all warm and happy. I add pick up ice cream cake to today’s to-do list. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but I’m old enough to know not to put my happiness in anyone’s hands besides my own. It’s a gift.