A not-so-big birth­day to-do

Maryland Independent - - Classified - Twitter: @right­meg

Birth­days once meant sleep­overs, sweets and shop­ping. Now? I’d be thrilled with sleep.

Mon­day was my big 3-1. Turn­ing 30 caught me by sur­prise, re­ally, given I was a shell of a hu­man be­ing with an up-all­night new­born. My thir­ti­eth fell on a Satur­day, the most cov­eted day for birth­days, but we kept it low-key last year. If I re­mem­ber cor­rectly, I was passed out by 8 p.m. And that’s with evening cof­fee.

A birth­day fall­ing on a Mon­day is the least birth­day-ish thing there is. But my fam­ily al­ways gets to­gether for cake and pre­sents — what some would deem a “to-do.” That’s been easy with three birth­days within five days of each other: my sis­ter’s, Dad’s and mine. July was a blow-out — es­pe­cially as Katie and I got older. Hav­ing sum­mer oc­ca­sions meant friends had to be tracked down be­fore trips and camps ren­dered them MIA un­til the new school year. Mom re­ally went all out.

Though I still love birth­days (yours, mine, ev­ery­one’s), they’re qui­eter oc­ca­sions these days. Most of us don’t need to be re­minded of our age, for one; I’ve passed the point where I can dis­creetly re­move the white hairs that have cropped up along my hair­line. Much more tweez­ing and I’ll have to pass off my bald patch as a fash­ion state­ment.

Hair dye needs aside, I’m just not as quick as I used to be. Get­ting off the floor with my 1-yearold of­ten re­quires an arm up, a sturdy piece of fur­ni­ture or both. While try­ing to out-run my Fit­bit friends (didn’t hap­pen), I landed hard on one knee and hob­bled for days. I don’t re­bound as quickly. Some of my freck­les are start­ing to look weird, and con­ver­sa­tions with bud­dies of­ten in­volve health in­sur­ance and re­tire­ment. I have lit­tle un­der­stand­ing of what Poké­mon Go is.

But I’m learn­ing to be OK with that.

I’m try­ing to get health­ier. To let go of lit­tle slights. To em­brace my grow­ing aware­ness that I’m not hip — and I don’t need to be. I mean, I’m not join­ing Snapchat. It’s bet­ter that way.

So far, my thir­ties have helped me ac­cept that I am just one per­son. One highly-caf­feinated, anx­ious, do­ing-the-best-she-can woman. Be­com­ing a par­ent has cer­tainly con­trib­uted to that. And my thir­ti­eth year? All about cut­ting my­self some slack.

I was pretty suc­cess­ful, ac­tu­ally. Some of it was more ne­ces­sity, less self-control: to main­tain my san­ity, I’ve had to ig­nore some tasks. The floor won’t al­ways be vac­u­umed. Unan­swered emails may linger a lit­tle too long. Clean tow­els now live in the dryer un­til we’re forced to fold them — and only be­cause we have more to jam in there.

But we’re do­ing the best we can.

When we col­lapsed after the long drive home from New York last week, Spencer no­ticed Oliver felt a lit­tle warm. We ini­tially ig­nored that, hop­ing it was noth­ing, but soon broke out our trusty baby ther­mome­ter.

His tem­per­a­ture was high, of course. A virus.

For the next five days, Spencer and I took turns snug­gling our poor tod­dler — barely leav­ing the house or look­ing up in the process. Though he has been sick many times, un­for­tu­nately, he hadn’t been sick like this. His fever wa­vered be­tween warm-tap-wa­ter and cross­ing-hot-coals. We took him to the doc­tor and bonded with the week­end on-call physi­cian through our wor­ried phone calls. Spence and I stared at each other quite a bit, un­sure what to do for our un­com­fort­able child. It’s an aw­ful feel­ing.

Though I had al­ready been plan­ning to work Mon­day, it quickly be­came ap­par­ent that my 31st birth­day wouldn’t be one for the ages. It was spent with my sick child — the sick baby who’d al­ready got­ten sick on me.

Birth­days in adult­hood can’t hold a can­dle to child­hood, of course, and I don’t ex­pect them to. It would be nice for a birth­day to not in­volve ur­gent care, how­ever. On Mon­day, I was con­tent to take in my son’s cu­rios­ity as he lis­tened to the fam­ily sing “Happy Birth­day To You” in our en­thu­si­as­tic, off-key voices. His in­no­cence scrubs an old-hat mo­ment clean, giv­ing it sparkle once more.

But be­ing a par­ent of­ten means a tiny per­son leans in to snuff out our can­dles. Gifts are ripped open on our be­half. And, of course, there’s no un­in­ter­rupted skim­ming of Face­book wishes; a sticky hand is al­ways poised to pry away our phone.

These are silly things, of course. In­con­se­quen­tial things. Even with the spot­light shift­ing to our lit­tlest loved ones, who would deny them the sim­ple plea­sure of claim­ing the sugar flow­ers from our cake?

Well — me, ac­tu­ally. Keep those cute paws off my dessert.

Oliver can have the wish (he was my wish, after all), but frost­ing is not meant to be shared.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.