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
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
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
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
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!)
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.