Happy Birthday To Me**

November 9, 2010 at 5:00 am | Posted in Giggles, Lollipop, Serial Commas | 20 Comments
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I sat at the computer, my head in my hands. I mentally composed the e-mail, trying to stave off the roaring headache I knew was coming. I typed, deleted, typed, sent, and closed my eyes.

Lollipop looked up from her markers and stamps. “What’s wrong, Mommy?” she asked.

I thought about what to say. “I’m just a little upset and I want some quiet time by myself so I can feel better,” I finally said.

She thought about that. She nodded. And she scampered off.

I worried over my e-mail — I had just agreed to rework a freelance project the client and I both thought we had already completed. I had no time for it. No. Time. But I felt I needed to see it to fruition. Somehow.

Over the monitors I heard the boys stirring from their naps. I realized I’d forgotten to start my crockpot dinner. And I eyed the stack of felt and poster board waiting to be transformed into Halloween costumes.

No. Time.

Lollipop tapped me on the shoulder. “I have a present for you!” She handed me two green dish towels. “Open it!” she said.

In between the towels she had folded up a sheet of paper stamped with orange flowers. “Happy Birthday, Mommy!”

I smiled, in spite of the whooshing in my head and the irritated cries coming over the monitors. It was not my birthday. Not even my half-birthday. But she wanted to cheer me up and had intuited, in her wise little-girl way, that birthdays and presents — even imaginary ones — would do the trick.

All evening, she and Giggles presented me with gifts. Plastic spoons. Tupperware lids. Coasters. Ladles and magnets. Wrapped in towels, blankets, cloth napkins. They handed each one over to me with gleeful smiles usually reserved for icing straight up. And every time: “Happy Birthday, Mom!” Every. Time.

In between opening my gifts and exclaiming over each one (“A cow magnet? How moooooovelous!”), I concocted a casserole from random stuff in the pantry. Googled images of the costumes I needed to make. Tried to tidy the cluttery countertops.

I’d never been so happy for the interruptions. I’d never been so moved by the thoughtfulness of my children. Once again, they had shown me something I ought to have known: Time? No one ever has enough. Aren’t birthdays themselves the most tangible reminder of that? Finding balance means managing the scarcity — and prioritizing precious minutes for unexpected surprises.

Like birthday cake. And candles. And presents. Even imaginary ones. Especially imaginary ones.

How do your children pick up on your emotions? How has their ability to cheer you up surprised you? What was your best birthday celebration (real or imaginary)?

**It’s not really my birthday. Though I will certainly accept make-believe well-wishes in the comments!

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20 Comments »

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  1. Oh Stacia – there is always time for presents! And, well, there is always time for anything. And everything. We always get there in the end, no matter how daunting the tasks.

    Happy pretend birthday my dear! x

  2. Those intuitive little devils! I love this story. Those kids sure do love their mama.

  3. It sounds like the perfect Un-birthday to me. Funny how their little minds figure things out, isn’t it? I think you should have some cake. Everything looks better after cake.

  4. Your kids are awesome.

    While I love all Munchie’s hugs, kisses, and declarations of love, there are times when (like your sweet kids) she shows me such kindness and compassion that I could just break down in tears right then and there.

    I had a really sore back for a few days a month or so ago. A couple of nights ago as I was leaving Munchie’s room at bedtime she said “Oh mom? How has your back been feeling?” When I told her it was much better, she said “I’m really glad it’s feeling better mom.”

    And then I melted into a puddle and said a quick prayer of thanks for my sweet girl and her beautiful heart.

  5. So awesome. They always know just when we need it. A hug and a bright smile from my boys does it every time. It’s like magic.

  6. It is funny how most of the time children are all too conscious of their own needs and wants but at the same time maintain some hidden antenna that detects when Mommy really needs some TLC. How lovely that your children did that for you, gave you a wonderful pick me up when you most needed it.

  7. Yesterday I was in a sleep-deprived, daylight-savings, headachy funk and my daughter said: “Mama? I love you more than the moon and the stars and the sky.”
    Oh, okay. I’m better.

  8. And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is why we have kids – in case anyone’s wondering :)

    Your kids are awesome – with them around, it’s a birthday every day! But I bet it has something to do with them being a tiny reflection of their mama. I’m just sayin’…

  9. Happy Birthday indeed! And many many many more. Kids are awesome.

  10. This is so cute. I love these little pick-me-ups that kids provide at the most inconvenient times. My daughter is always saying “I love you Momma” at the most random moments. But her voice and what she says reminds me to be grateful.

  11. Aw, that is so very sweet!

  12. “They handed each one over to me with gleeful smiles usually reserved for icing straight up.” Love that line.

    This post, and your kids, made my day. More often than not, they have their priorities straight, don’t they.

    Thanks.

  13. Beautiful story. Those moments truly make this gig worth it, don’t they?

    A very merry unbirthday to you!

  14. What sweetie pies. You never WILL have enough time for the chores. But I hate it when I don’t make time for smiling and love. That said, I have to go take care of my kids. Night, babe. Hope things go smoothly for you tomorrow.

  15. So sweet! How thoughtful :). Last night while I was trying to put andrew to bed, aaron came in from his room looking sad. Andrew said, you okay Aaron? Did you have a bad dream? So sweet. Then they hugged and kissed and aaron went back to bed. I hardly said a word. :)

  16. This is so beautifully written. Thanks for the reminder that we need to use the time we do have wisely.

  17. Happy unbirthday to you!

    What thoughtful kids you have. An imaginary birthday, just for you? Priceless. I think, though, that I’d prefer real birthday cake. Imaginary cake just doesn’t seem to taste all that great.

  18. Fab post. Beautiful. Kids just know don’t they. Mr3 is the kind of the random kiss. He knows when I’m in trouble and just throws one in there. Happy unbirthday!

  19. So perceptive. And smart. And sweet!

    My kids perform. Rock bands, songs, dances, fashion shows. They entertain. It’s both fantastic and kinda sad. The codependent in me wants them to never feel they have to shuck-and-jive for others.

  20. I know one thing. When our company left yesterday, my daughter and son “huddled up”. They were ready for the debriefing. Intuitively they knew what our team needed was a few moments to talk through a couple scenarios of the visitation. That done…they went their separate ways and all was good. But I think about that and how they gathered. They listened and talked and I felt lucky that the babies I’d raised were now people who are also at times my companions. Nice.


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