A New Leaf: Happy Birthday To Me

We’re going to try something new for my birthday- we’re going to try and move this day from the realm of CRAPTASTIC (um, filing for divorce on your birthday, anyone? don’t recommend it) and gently nudge it back towards where a birthday, at least for most folks, might be- near, perhaps, say, HAPPY?

So far, so good. It’s not that all my birthdays have been crummy- it’s just been a long string where I just sort of got through the day, where I didn’t want to make a big deal, and where I didn’t want my kids to feel bad because we couldn’t do anything, or, well… you get the picture. Last year on this day, this is what I wrote:

Figure I may as well mark the milestone. Today is my birthday. This is what I look like today, at the end of my 39th trip around the sun- but it is not who I am. The tiny lines and freckles on my face mark my earthly journey, and they don’t bother me much. It’s what’s inside that makes me proud, that makes me stand taller and hold myself in esteem. And I realize now, as I stare down the nose of forty, that I like who I am becoming as a mother, a woman, a human being, and a daughter of God. I must have needed some serious refining, because the paths I have chosen and been given are not the easy, simple ways- but I would not be who I am without that hard road. Today I thank God for the broken road, the hard road, the rocky path, and the patience He has in allowing me to hammer myself on the anvil of life and become whatever it is He knows lies within.

Sometimes I’m a pretty smart cookie. At least in retrospect. Yesterday, it was hard to be thankful for the (still) broken road that I’m traveling- but even in my weariness, I know it’s mine, and there are lessons I must learn from this path.

So this morning, I woke to flowers and birthday cards, and happy, boisterous arms around my neck. I woke to my son trying to cook me breakfast, and another coloring me a picture, and Abby with her finger in the frosting. I woke to notes from people who love me, and phone calls from even more of those precious and treasured people.

Things are never going to be perfect, and honestly, I don’t think I wanted a perfect life- whatever that means. What I have is amazing, the gifts I’ve been given— gifts which allow me to navigate this crazy, broken, wild yet still beautiful mess of a life– are tremendous and valuable. There will not be another day wasted on wishing for something, anything, that has not already been granted.

Like the Persian carpet weavers who include intentional mistakes into their complicated and stunning tapestries, I’m going to start weaving the thorns and crags right into the tapestry of life, and call it Beautiful. The garden is already perfect.

Happy Birthday to me.

(btw- that picture is how you do blue eye makeup and not look like a Bozo)

Surrender, Dorothy

Listening through cotton, the dryer whirls comfortingly down the hall. The clacking tells me there is at least a handful of tooth-fairy money and probably some Legos churning away with the jeans and newly clean gym clothes. I can hear Bean downstairs discussing the merits of Doctor Eleven over Ten, and garbled interjections from Abby’s softer voice. The peanut butter toast and canned pears I placed on the table are long gone, and crumpled and torn homework papers should soon be fished from the bottoms of backpacks, smelling like every elementary school ever- the odd mix of bananas, dust, glue, sweat and industrial disinfectant. I just can’t stomach it tonight.

In my room, the wide swath of comforter wafts out before me, and my bedside lamp is warm and low. The very late setting sunlight dares to break apart a the damp clouds that have had a death-grip on my sky all day, and shards of thin sunlight break through the curtains. My laptop hums softly cradled on my bent knees, while random Pinterest flotsam and jetsam wanders across the pane behind this one.

My iPod is making a Genius mix that is oddly brilliant, and I idly wonder how that’s possible- it’s too accurate, actually, and I have to shut it off before I throw it across the room. Sometimes music is the balm for my soul, and sometimes it’s like having my heart peeled with a knife- but it’s never wrong. No matter what, a song comes on I need to hear, even when I don’t want to listen.

Deep pink shadows fall over the railing and down the stairs from the paper lantern over Abby’s bed, and I move my feet absorb the residual warmth from where she had been flopped a few moments ago. I wasn’t as interesting as her brothers’ conversation, and she floated off with the pink light, clutching my ragged childhood copy of Charlotte’s Web. Dear lord, I love that girl.

Nothing went right today. Nothing whatsover. So by dinner time, it was toast and pears, and cozy nestling in instead of fighting it. Sometimes, I’m just too weary to pick it up and keep going. Just for today. Just for tonight. All day I waged battle, all day I tried to tackle Life, and now… now I am tired. Now, I am laying down my battle gear, scarred and worn to the shapes of my needs, my calluses, my strengths, and my weaknesses— I submit to the night, until the sun rolls around the eastern sky again.

Tomorrow I will get up and try again. 

*really? really??*

It will al be fine. Always is. I am well acquainted with my bootstraps, and I have several kicky and cute pair of Big Girl Pants. I’m no ones victim, and this too shall pass. Yeah yeah yeah- believe me, I’ve got that one down in aces. It’s a bad week, not a bad life. Right? RIGHT??

I won’t line everything out, because dammit I am sick of having crap going wrong, but I will give you the nutshell: grad school testing, interviews, changes in program, IEP changes, emissions test and state inspection, parking ticket for not having said test despite having a 30 day window and proof of said window, two months of waiting if we get EBT with still no answer or funding, medical benefits that are turned down at every hospital and clinic I can find, Bean needing some medical care, a car accident (very minor), attempting to get flu shot and being told my benefits are only good at a doctor’s office (see above), another test, state of Washington lost the child support X sent in (yay!!) despite my having been waiting since Sept 1 for it, X cannot send October support in until we figure out where September went, bills due, and on and on it goes.

The part that sucks is many of these things I am powerless to do anything about. If I can get in there and roll up my sleeves and do some stomping, I’m more than happy and willing to do it- it’s just the layers of crap and bureaucracy so many of these problems are couched within… I’m exhausted. And I popped the yolks flipping my eggs this morning. Going back to bed is looking pretty good…

And Abby wanted to take goofy pictures and put them up- so there’s your dissonance for the day. Plus, it’s my birthday on Wednesday. Erp.