Every year when my birthday rolls around I find myself waiting. Waiting for something momentous to happen, or something small. Something special. Do you remember those early birthdays when you were a kid? Six, seven, eight? I would wake up every the morning of my birthday, and the first thing on my mind was that it was my birthday. Usually there was either a present already on my pillow, or at the kitchen table waiting for me. It was almost always a new outfit, a birthday outfit, complete with the right colored ribbons for my hair. Wearing that outfit made me feel special. Renewed. If it’s possible for an eight year old to feel renewed, anyway. There was the breakfast of choice, and cupcakes later for my class at school. Usually later in the day there would be another present (not something to wear) and whatever I wanted for dinner. This was all orchestrated (or perpetrated) by my mother. And she did the same thing for my brother when his birthday rolled around in December.
I love my mother. There aren’t words, really, to fully express that sentiment. I absolutely believe, with all my heart, that no one on this planet loves me more, and more unconditionally. Mr. Bump loves me a lot. My father loves me a lot, in his way, too. But the love my mom gives me is nearly a visible beam of light. She is still always teaching me what it means to love.
But it is possible that the woman has ruined me for birthdays as a grown-up. When you’re a grown-up, even a married one, even one that’s on Facebook, there is a certain amount of “ho-hum” that accompanies your birthday.
I’ll break it down for you: Even though I’m loved, and shown that love on my birthday by many people, I still find myself seeking some mythical birthday, where every moment sparkles and shines. I’m not sure what that is, but I know that it has a quality of being beyond reach. A day where the air is crisp but smells like summer is coming, a smell of fresh cut grass and sprinkler-wet earth. Where my hair ribbons match my outfit, and the day holds the promise of cake and ice cream, and more presents to come later. And so much love. Birthdays are the promise of love.
This year I woke up to a pile of birthday presents from Mr. Bump (including shoes!). There was a party, with cake and ice cream later. We laughed, and ate, and played games. I did make my own birthday cake. But hey, at this point in my life (and when it comes to cake), it’s just best to just get out of my way and let me make what I want. So thirty-seven was a pretty amazing birthday.
But now it’s Monday, and man do I have a case of them. Even my body is unhappy about it. I have a cake hangover. I have a birthday hangover. The birthday sparkle definitely fades faster when as you age. I think I’ve become a little bit like a junkie. No matter how much birthday fabulousness I have, I always think that I needed a little bit more.
Balance is a hard thing for me to find. I go after things fiercely, doggedly, but I don’t always maintain momentum. Like starting out too fast in a race, it’s hard to maintain the pace you set. Whether that’s running, or weight loss, or whatever, it’s hard to keep going. Sometimes you need to re-plant your feet and start over. And a birthday is a new year. A fresh start. A rebirth. So here I go. Happy happy birthday to me.