Monday, January 4, 2010

A birthday

I poured myself a bit more coffee than my one mug this morning. I ate left-over sopapilla for breakfast. I listened to Joan Jett at 5:30 am, and played with my new computer camera.

It is my birthday today. I realized yesterday that when I hear the date January 4th, I think, "Hey, that is my sister's birthday." And I am squarely channeling the Beatles when I declare to myself and the world, "Hey, it's my birthday too!" I am moving into my late thirties, which translates to mean that my husband works a twenty-four hour shift today. He'll be back tomorrow. I am looking at no downtime today. Errands. Visiting my father. No naptime. Maybe some art project for dinner while Beatrice nibbles on Mac and Cheese and carrots. No clowns or pony rides. Just life. Regular old thirty-something life.

I received the best gift last night. From myself. I slept through the night for the first time in over a month. All night. In my own bed. It was nice. I feel groggy this morning. How can I still be tired after eight hours of uninterrupted sleep without a single dream or nightmare? And yet my demanding body wanted more hours to rejuvenate. I aged this past few months of Christmas cookies and insomnia. Wrinkles around the eyes. Double chins. Bloated face. I want to look at myself again and see health, strength, sunshine instead of impending middle age and depression. I think I need a sleepcation. Somewhere boring and designed for optimal rest. Or someplace where I am forced to do manual labor for 10 hours a day. I may have hit on something there.

Today, for my birthday, I would really like to do yoga in the privacy of my living room without becoming an ersatz jungle gym. I would like to have a bath without a two year old throwing every bath toy at me, stripping nekkid and inviting herself for a dip. I'd love to have a glass or three of a dry white wine with crusty bread and cheese for dinner. I'd like to paint a picture without a dripping orange paintbrush plopping down right in the middle of the paper.

"But, Beatrice, it doesn't need to be more beautiful right now."

This birthday, I would like to wail and scream into my pillow because Lucy might have been born today, if that little turning wheel of EDD fate had its way. And yet, I am also grateful to have to move through today being responsible for other people. My father may not remember that I was born today. He will ask me about his laundry, and tell me to tuck in his sheets, and remind me for the thousandth time that he puts his shirts in the third drawer.

"I know. I put away your laundry every week," I will think. "Okay, Dad. " I will say instead. 

I am thirty-six. I am a grown up. People rely on me to do stuff. And that sometimes is the best gift in the world. I used to joke that I wanted "suck up and deal" to be carved in granite of my gravestone. I rarely do that these days. I suck up nothing. I crumble into a ball of overly sensitive messiness at the most benign of situations, except perhaps when dealing with my sick father, my husband and my toddler. And it gives me strength to face the other unbearable aspects of this journey.

Sometimes, when you turn thirty-six, you want to the world to stop for a minute. To take inventory of your losses and your gains. You want to recalibrate the measure of happiness. Despite the fact that I will not get any of the things I want today, or have confetti thrown over my head, I am happy because the people that rely on me the most, also are the ones that give me the most by the simple need of my strength and happiness.

"Why are you hitting me, Beatrice?"
"I don't know, Mommy."
"Please stop, Beatrice."
"Okay, Mommy. Mommy?"

"Yes, Beatrice."
"Let's play together. You be the baby, and I be the whale...'Hi, Baby.'"
"Hi, Whale."


  1. Happy birthday Angie!
    (Happy birthday, unknown twin-sister!)

    1974 is just the best year of all, I keep telling myself and trying to ignore that I'll be closer to 40 soon too. But my dad keeps telling me: we're not getting older, just better. Like a good bottle of wine. I like that version... ;)

    I hope you'll have a great day with your loved ones. I will raise my glass of wine to you later on.

    Big birthday-hug & kisses!

  2. Big Birthday wishes, Angie.

    You always write so well, so honestly and touch home on so many levels.

    Thank you for that. Hoping you get a few minutes to yourself today.


  3. Hey, Happy Birthday Angie!

    Meh, 40 isn't that bad...


  4. I'm happy for you.

    I say pour that glass and get that crusty bread -- but that's me talking.

  5. Happy birthday, Whale! I mean, Angie! :)


    40 is good! LOL

    love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love,


  7. Happy Birthday Angie! I hope you manage to sneak in some time for you, if not today then maybe tomorrow? xo

  8. Gotta love the stuff kids come up with... and the hitting business drives me barmy...

    Happy birthday Angie. I hope you get a few moments to yourself.


  9. Wishing you a very Happy Birthday - from someone that is not too far behind you in years ;)

  10. Happy Birthday! Wishing you more sleep and sunshine.

  11. thinking of you today angie...your birth into this world and your twin sister's too. wishing you moments of rest and peace today and this year.

    birthday blessings to you

  12. Happy birthday my lovely! Three cheers for you! xx

  13. Wishing you some moments of peace today for your birthday (I know that little toddler will give you moments of joy). And chocolate. Glad you were born and are here to share your thoughts with all of us. xo

  14. happy birthday, angie. sorry you are so, so tired. i remember turning 36. 35 was a hard year, and i was glad to have it over. but then i realized - my mid-30s weren't over. there is something about these years. both fulfilling and utterly depressing.

    sleepcation. i want one of those for my birthday too. xo

  15. A great post Angie- thank you! I am wishing you a wonderful Birthday- much love from the Lone Star State-

  16. Happy birthday Angie. Hope you've had a lovely day. Glad you got some sleep.

    I don't really know why but the little exchange between Baby and Whale has me in tears. xo

  17. Happy birthday my dear friend. Sorry I sort of missed it. I feel like I did because it is not your birthday here anymore! Just thinking, I didn't know you this time last year, and I can't imagine how hard this day must have been last year - both your birthday and Lucy's due date. Seems so impossibly cruel. I hope you got some moments of peace on your day today.
    And hey, Angie's sister, if you're reading, happy birthday to you, too!!

  18. Happy Birthday to you..You live in a look like a monkey..And you smell like one too!!
    Sorry, that's THE birthday song in our family. We call each other and sing it in each other's faces or sing it into the answering machine.
    Happy Birthday to you and Kelly.
    Thank you for remembering my Zoe. I hope you know that I think of you every day, just been in a funk and finding it hard to reach out.
    Much Love (and another full night of rest) to you..xo

  19. Happy Birthday Angie! You are an amazing person and I am glad to know you.

    P.S. I loved the christmas card you sent out. I love that you honored Lucy in it. I am sorry I didn't tell you that sooner. I showed it to my Mom and she started crying because she thought it was so beautiful.

  20. Happy B-day and hope you get another good night's sleep tonite!

  21. happy bday angie. i hope that you made it your day, even without the things you really really wanted.
    i hope you felt all the bday love coming at you from all over! xo

  22. Oops, behind as ever. I hope you had a lovely birthday.

  23. Happy birthday. So happy to hear you got some sleep. I hope your day was full of joy. Your story about the baby and the whale had me cracking up. :)

  24. Happy birthday....better late then never.


  25. Ack...I have been so behind on my blogging. I missed your special day. Happy Belated. I hope this year fills your heart, as much as it can be filled and that you know how much you have touched so many other people with your words.


What do you think?