My tweens are constantly harassing me about being “old”. Saturday I turned 42. When I was young that did seem old! However, as I age, my definition of old changes. My daughter Grace, knowing the jokes were getting a little irritating to me, gave me a sweet card that said “19 years old” to make me feel better. Then I explained to her that meant I bore a child when I was six years. She innocently changed it to this:
Back to square one!
I awoke to the sound of silence and savored it. I usually am rushed in the morning and the house is louder than a rock concert. Nobody was up but the dog and I, and the dog wasn't ready to be awake. He was content in his laziness. Just as soon as I hopped onto the computer to do some writing though, newbie teenager Riley appeared wrapped up in sleepiness and a blanket from the basement. “Happy Birthday Mom,” he said, as he gave me a rare uninitiated hug. That was a treasure.
Then he saw that I was on the computer. I have been sharing the family computer since mine crashed. The sweetness was short-lived. “How long are you going to be on there?” “I don't know,” I stated. A grouchy attitude ensued. I asked him to go downstairs to watch some early morning cartoons or read a book. I don’t get why kids sleep in on the weekends, but for the love of God cannot get up on a school day! Riley stomped his way through the kitchen doing his best to be the alarm clock for the rest of the house.
I had my monthly music group, Spontaneous Music by Children, that morning. Riley and Grace chose to go to another birthday party in which they were invited. That was fine by me, since they have been shuttled to my music groups almost every month for ten years, and it isn't nearly as exciting for them anymore since it draws a younger crowd.
For me it was was a perfect setup. My youngest, Cade and I went together. Knowing that Riley and Grace were enjoying themselves with their friends and not feeling obligated to “hang out with mom on her birthday” helped me focus more on being in the present moment. I didn’t have to worry about the attitudes of my tweens- as I often do these days. The session was filled with children, parents and guest performers who connected by singing, dancing, and drumming together. As I soaked it all in, I found myself overflowing with gratitude. The feeling of being totally present was worth a million birthday's!
Later in the day I took some time to myself to go for a nice long bike ride and run. When I arrived home Mark cooked me dinner, and we all sat down together as a family. We have been so busy lately that the family dinner has been a rare event. It was awesome to be together around the dinner table, sharing bites of our day in between bites of chicken enchiladas. The ugly birthday cake was delicious! (I wish I had a picture to show you how UGLY it really was!) Seems like the tweens had gotten a little hungry before dinner, and did a great job of eating all the way around the edges of the angel food cake....those little devils!
Grace had been invited to a sleepover, and again it turned out to be a perfect setup. That left Riley home to baby-sit for us, so Mark and I could go enjoy a night out together. When Riley and Grace are both responsible for Cade, fights break out. Two is company…three is definitely a crowd around our house sometimes!
So Riley was left with instructions and the clicker (yes, the electronic babysitter) and Mark and I headed to the Top Hat to meet my sister and her husband. The band Storyhill was playing. Storyhill is made up of two amazing musicians: Chris Cunningham and John Hermanson. I grew up across the street from Chris Cunningham, babysat him a few times when I was a tween, and got paid ten cents a clothing article to iron for his mom! I have been watching their career with interest, but had never caught a live show. Wow, was I in for a surprise!
Their music enveloped me. The harmonies, lyrics and guitar playing was even more amazing live than any of their CDs I had listened to. For an hour and a half I was engaged in the moment. Looking around the room, I could tell that everyone else was having the same experience too. Time stood still, as if we were all travelers willingly stranded on a beautiful island of sound.
After the show, my sister and I had a chance to talk to Chris. I don't think he remembered us, as he was quite young, but then we said “We were the family of SEVEN kids.” He nodded his head. It was great to see the successful adult version of a charming little neighbor boy, whose face looks just the same as years ago, now sweetly making the world a better place through his music.
My birthday was one I won't forget anytime soon. Way too often these days I find myself wrapped up in the challenges of mothering three very unique kids at different stages, whose personalities vacillate depending on the minute and situation. It is crucial for me to be able to stay focused, enjoy the gifts of the sweet moments, and bask in wonderful presence of these kids who call me mom. That, by far, is the best present I could ever receive.