By Sherri Caldwell
On the occasion of my 36th birthday...well, actually, it was very, very quiet. I woke up with Tiger, the youngest, snuggled up next to me in my bed; woke up to Haleigh's beautiful smile and heart-felt (loud) "Happy Birthday, Mommy!" She thrust my first present of the day in my face, very excited: a brown paper "gift bag" with a Barbie and her horse--just what I was hoping for! Zach, the oldest, came in a few minutes later with a more subdued, "Happy Birthday, Mom." (He's almost nine, he's got to be cool.) Hugs and kisses from everybody, which is always nice.
There were no large, be-ribboned packages, no small, but hopefully very expensive, boxes. No balloons, no flowers, no breakfast in bed. I'm not really a breakfast person, anyway. A Monday, it quickly turned into a typical high-stress, routinely chaotic morning, getting the kids (always reluctant, at best) dressed and off to school. Before the morning was over, I gave all my spankings to Haleigh. We missed the bus, so Russ drove them--and brought back a Starbucks Mocha Decaf, which is a lovely start to any day.
It was a rainy, chilly Fall day in Atlanta--a good day to stay in bed with my coffee and a good book. I tried to hunker down in the bed, but it wasn't happening: It was me, my 36-year-old self, and the three-year-old, stuck inside all day. If I couldn't stay in bed, we could at least stay in our jammies to play and watch cartoons, but about 1 p.m. I decided I'd better shower and get dressed--maybe my hubby would surprise me with a lunch date? Surprise plans later that evening? I'd better be ready! He brought home lunch in a bag and a pumpkin-themed cake, but then had to rush back to work on an urgent project for a meeting later that afternoon.
Still, it was a great day. It's okay, being 36. I remember the year my mother turned 36. I was only five, but that was the first year I was actually aware that my mother had birthdays, too--and that she was a lot older than me! I remember how upset she was when I told everyone her age. It did seem pretty old at the time. It certainly doesn't now! Sweet revenge for my mother: I now have my own six-year-old figuring these things out--and sharing with everyone. She brings home large, colorful drawings of her family, with balloon captions of everyone proudly proclaiming their age--I'm the stick figure with the bright orange hair, "I'm 36!" I've complained the last couple of weeks, "I'm NOT 36!" But now I am, and it's fine.
Thank goodness we celebrated last week, my husband and I, with an early-birthday romantic weekend getaway, when I was only 35 and still young enough to have a good time! (A little too much of a good time, as it turned out, but that's a whole 'nother story...) My mother gives me the best birthday present every year: a few days away from my kids! I couldn't ask for anything more. While we were off on our weekend, I got to pick out my own present from my wonderful husband: a gorgeous, sparkly leopard bracelet (gold and faux diamonds), with earrings to match. Perfect!
So I didn't expect a big day, any more surprises of that nature. I received birthday cards in the mail, opened up email that morning from a good friend, who then called. I made him sing to me, since he was the first and I was maybe just a little, tiny bit blue--usually my mother-in-law calls with the Happy Birthday serenade. I got that call later in the day, on her lunch hour. My Mom called and stopped by with a birthday card later. I even got an email from Vicki, up in Minneapolis attending a funeral--I hadn't expected her to remember! And I got a call from my sister-in-law, Kelly, in Sacramento--by mistake, as it turned out: a misunderstanding on her cell phone voice dial (Sherri too close to Shelly?). But when she figured out who she had called (after "Who is this?!"), she picked right up on the birthday greetings--she had been thinking about me, her voice dial must have picked up on that.
Kelly and I had a good conversation about kids, working, moving into a new house--and yes, it does get better as the kids get a little older and more rational. My nephew, Max, is one. My niece, Quinn, is three. Max celebrated moving into a brand-new house last week by throwing up on the brand-new carpet. Quinn made her mark, literally, with magic marker, on the new walls. Silly Girl (Kelly), did she think it would be easy?! Of course they all got sick--really sick--their first days in the new house--that's how life with kids works! Our conversation reminded of my all-time favorite birthday card: "You may be old, but at least you're not pregnant!" Very true--but I miss my niece and nephew, not being able to help out or play Auntie.
With Vicki up in Minnesota, her kids came to my house after school, but only for half-hour until Brad got home early from work--Dad on his own for a couple of nights. Since I only had half an hour, we had a special birthday party, me and the kids: I made them sing to me (that's a big thing for me, obviously!) and then sugared them up with pumpkin-decorated birthday cake--less cake for me, which, at my age, is a good thing! (Sorry, Brad!)
All in all, a very good way to turn 36, if you have to anyway--
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