Hello, friend! Just taking a break from the "Home" series for a little birthday surprise from me to you! Look for "Home, Part 3" sometime in the next week or two.
For years, I downplayed my birthday. I never wanted the attention and focus on me. I would never announce it and at one point I even made sure Facebook didn't publicize my birthday because even simple messages on social media felt like too much. So, birthdays for me were quiet and low-key. Just me and my little clan having a simple meal and a simple, sensible gift. And I was happy enough to just let the day pass and go back to life as usual.
When my kids were young, I did the opposite for their birthdays. Spent hundreds of dollars and spent countless hours preparing, making, baking, planning the perfect themed parties. At the end of the day, I would be completely exhausted but happy to see the smiles on their faces. At one point, I did wonder to myself when I lost the exuberant anticipation of celebrating my own birthday and just poured into others' special days. I shrugged it off, figuring that it's just a part of becoming an adult.
When I turned 40 in 2018, I thought about planning a big, themed, costumed party with dancing and a bar with signature cocktails. In the end, I didn't. Life started to get complicated that year and it seemed more my speed to invite three of my closest friends over to have a quiet, intimate dinner. I did just that, and it was lovely. Six months later, though, one of those friends decided she didn't want to be my friend anymore and despite my pleas, we did not reconcile. I will confess that I used to be bitter that I had invited her for that occasion. That I allowed her into my small, intimate circle to celebrate a milestone birthday. I treated her to a meal in my home and unbeknownst to me, she had already harbored anger and resentment towards me, but didn't let me know at that time. I wished I didn't invite her...annoyed that that milestone birthday was tainted by her presence.
How petty of me.
Because in the end, I celebrated. I took time to think about who mattered to me and how I wanted to spend my day and I did just that. I'm not sure why she accepted my invitation, but she did, and it's not needed for me to be upset or regret inviting her. I still celebrated and my other two friends, who I remain close with, were there and I will never forget the time spent with them. It was sweet and every time I spend time with them, it is sweet. I had a nice evening with three friends I love. Full stop.
My mom's diagnosis has also made me appreciate each passing year. How beautiful it is to say you have lived another 365 days on earth. Time is short and it's precious and it is worth celebrating. If you live with anyone with dementia, you also know that time is elusive. It can feel dreadfully long and achingly short all at the same time. Might as well use that time to be joyful.
Today is my 43rd birthday, and I am happy and grateful to say I've lived another year. This past year has taught me so much and has reminded me that every day is indeed new. His mercies really are new every morning. There is something new to see and appreciate each day/week/month, and space to breathe and rest and reflect. I can also say that in my 40s I've learned to rest and NOT hustle, and that there has been significant fruit as a result of my rest. I am celebrating today and I encourage you to also celebrate your birthday, milestone or otherwise. Another year is worth celebrating. You are worth celebrating. Cheers.