Tomorrow I will be turning thirty-two. I will admit, thirty-two looks a lot different than I thought it would look when I was younger. I remember thinking that by my thirties, I would have more answers. All I really have are more questions. I thought I would be totally comfortable in my own skin and be very confident. But I find more than ever, I feel like I am screwing it up and everyone knows it. I feel like the most unorganized mess of a human being. I am deeply flawed. I am selfish. I am bossy. I am impatient.
These are traits that are hard-wired into me and I have to try every day to be the opposite. But I’ve had the best teacher to show me how. She started teaching me from the day I was born how to be a better person. Take for example the fact that I was born the day before her twenty-second birthday. That’s right on the last day of her twenty-first year, she was delivering me (naturally) into this world. Talk about a pain in the a**. She was recovering in the hospital on her birthday. She was probably excited, but also scared to death. But she’s never even hinted at regretting any of it. She has always said I was the best birthday gift she ever got.
She has had to share her birthday with me for most of her life. And for years, I have believed I was so special to be born so close to my mom’s birthday. But now I realize that growing up, she was just sacrificing her day of being special to make sure that my day was more special. She has always made our birthday cake but let me blow out the candles. She threw parties for me and my friends on my birthday and probably had a big mess to clean up on her birthday.
Now I finally understand how much my mom has given through the years for me and my siblings because I am a mom. I was given new eyes the day my son was born. I see through the same eyes my mom has seen through for thirty-two years. I can appreciate all of the sacrifice she made for me and my siblings. She stopped working outside the home to make her full-time profession a stay-at-home-mom. It was the 80’s! She didn’t raise us in a time of play-dates every day. She and my dad worked very hard for everything they had. She had my sister nineteen months after me and my brother 20 months after her. My kids are even further spaced and I am still ripping my hair out daily. AND she even had a fourth kid! (Sorry, Pops. That won’t be happening.) There were no iPads to keep us busy while she made dinner. We never had cable T.V. to entertain us while she stole ten minutes to take a shower. There was no facebook to help my mom keep in touch with her friends. My mom didn’t go to college. She got married and had kids. She grew up quickly, much younger, and far more alone than I did.
Mom, I know you’ll read this. I just want to thank you for giving me the best birthday gift(s) of all. Thank you for sharing not only your day with me from the minute I was born, but the rest of your life. I finally see that once you become a mother, you’re a mother for the rest of your life. Thank you for showing me what selflessness looks like. Thank you for teaching me humility. Thank you for showing me unconditional love every day of my life. These are things you can’t give a person, but can only teach by example. You are the best role model a person could ask for. If I learn nothing else beyond what you have taught me these past thirty-two years, it will be okay because you have taught me the things that matter most.
You are an angel on earth and I love you. Happy birthday.