Happy Birthday To Me**November 9, 2010 at 5:00 am | Posted in Giggles, Lollipop, Serial Commas | 20 Comments
Tags: Balance, Birthday, Challenges, Children, Family, Imagination, Kids, Motherhood, Work
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.
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!