Happy Birthday to me! I’m 43 today. I really enjoyed being 42 and am sad to see it go, but 43 isn’t too shabby so far.
About a week ago I was feeling a tad grumpy about my birthday. The Army has managed to interfere with it almost every year since we moved to Wisconsin. It was scary having Ian in Iraq for two of them, and just irritating when he was home but had drill. Looking ahead to my birthday on my calendar when I got it at the beginning of the year I thought to myself, “Wednesday! There won’t be drill on a Wednesday.”
So of course Ian got sent to Ft Knox for the whole week to do things like SRP and PT and LMNOP and other capital letter events. And it’s a week where I have rehearsals three nights in a row and have had to find sitters.
I gave up on the idea of going to work. When Ian was last deployed Quinn wasn’t in school yet and I didn’t have to deal with the half-day pickup. Now the half-day pickup is such a wrench in the schedule, and I couldn’t figure out a decent way to run the store from 10:30 until 5:00 with pickups at the school at 11:00 and 2:20, and still feed everyone and get them to violin lessons and choir, etc. I hope my assistant is having a good time running things alone.
I had visions of getting a lot of work done on my violins since I would be home all week. That has not happened. I literally did not step foot in my shop yesterday, and the day before I cut a piece of ebony (for a saddle) down from 39mm to 36mm and that was it! At this rate those violins will be done, uh, never.
But it’s okay. Ian will be back soon and I will work again because we can share the chores and there will be a pocket of time for me to do what makes me feel like myself. There’s a huge difference between getting by for a week or two, and having to adjust to an absence long enough it may as well be permanent. The stress of always being denied the chance to do the things that interest me was hard to bear. It made me unfairly resentful of the kids and a less pleasant person. But just a week? I can enjoy being here for them and not worry that my life is on hold. It’s fine, and I’m having a good time, actually, running the house the way I like it and getting to spend more time with each of my children.
So back to my birthday. My big gift today has been feeling like I have done a damn good job raising my kids. I suffer the same guilt many mothers do about not doing enough or being there enough or any of the myriad of ways that enough doesn’t seem like enough. But my kids are lovely and have some decent life skills and I got to see that on display this morning.
When I say life skills, I mean my kids can make crepes. They would not survive the zombie apocalypse, or frankly even survive a movie trailer about it, but my kids put together a breakfast in bed that got my birthday off to the best start ever.
Aden and Mona set their alarm and got up early and told me to stay in bed.
They made crepe batter and flipped them all on their own.
They walked the dog.
They CLEANED THE KITCHEN. (They emptied the dishwasher and refilled it and wiped down the counters and cleared the breakfast table of their own plates.)
They brought me a plate of crepes on a tray that used to belong to my grandmother. They served them with honey from Germany given to us by my brother, along with a little powdered sugar and brought me water in a water bottle. There was a knife for the honey and a hand drawn card signed by all my kids.
It was pretty amazing.
Now, my children are not perfect, because that would be boring. They don’t have good time management skills and we got to school very late. There was also a moment when Aden got angry with Mona for blurting out, “We’re not making you breakfast in bed!” and I had to break it to Aden that I had already figured it out and really what I want for my birthday is for everyone to get along so she needed to get over it and forgive Mona. And Quinn was in tears for a while because when he couldn’t figure out what to draw on the card he got embarrassed and started telling his sisters to leave him alone and they were mad at him for trying to eat his own breakfast rather than help. I had to cuddle the tears away and give him a bunch of my crepes because he didn’t want to go back downstairs.
So there’s that.
But that my kids have figured out that the true joy of breakfast in bed isn’t the thought or the food but that it shouldn’t make more work for the recipient than it’s worth is a real breakthrough. They CLEANED THE KITCHEN! And served me a breakfast without anything that made crumbs or could spill. I am stunned. And happy! And 43!
On top of that when I dropped the kids off at school I realized I’d forgotten my swim bag. So I’m skipping exercise today because I’m tired and I don’t want to and you can’t make me. I might bake a cake. Or take a nap! Or even get into my shop for more than ten seconds. I miss Ian, but as far as birthdays go this one is working out just fine. It’s not even raining! I’m used to sleet on my birthday, but the sun is shining and it’s supposed to get into the 70′s today. I even heard back from an agent requesting to look at my non-fiction proposal. I’d buy a lottery ticket except there’s nothing much more I could want.
(Wait…. Maybe I’m not awake yet. Eh, even if this is just a dream it’s a good one. To everyone else, happy Pi Day!)
(Kids saying goodbye to their dad before he drove off to Kentucky. What did I ever do to deserve this family? I am the luckiest person I know, and I will remind myself of that the next time the dog throws up on the carpet.)
UPDATE: The rest of my birthday was great. I watched my kids on their scooters, baked a cake, read a book…. And at my orchestra rehearsal tonight the group played ‘Happy Birthday’ for me and I almost cried. So far being 43 rocks.