Birthdays are a great time to reflect on your life, to give thanks for the opportunity to have lived another year, and to celebrate all of the things your life encompasses. I think birthdays are pretty great, in general.
My last couple birthdays were not so spectacular. Three years ago, I had a newborn, no sleep, a busy husband who barely made it home to see me before the birthday was over. The year after, I was hooked up to IVs trying to curb dehydration and severe knock-you-out vomiting. Last year, my husband didn't live with us, but let me spend the night before with a couple friends, and it was looking to be a redeeming year celebration-wise, except the next morning I was sent an email from my landlord stating my husbands negligence was getting us evicted in two weeks.
Panic set in. My husband didn't seem phased in the least or show any interest in helping his children and his wife (that he suggested stay home with the kids to save on childcare) find a place to live. We were at risk of being homeless. It was the worst birthday ever, until a dear friend offered us the spare room at her apartment while I found a job.
So, here I am, the eve of the anniversary of the worst birthday of my almost 32 year-long life, and as you might expect, I am emotional. It's been an emotional week anyway trying to get affairs in order, being sleep deprived as usual, and other things.
Some of the emotions are overwhelmingly saddening. But then, there's this up-side.
This past year has been intense. It's been more intense than I ever imagined, in more facets than I ever expected.
It's been a whirlwind and it's been a drag. I've felt rushed and pushed and also stuck trudging through knee-deep molasses.
I've made mistakes. I've fallen. I've felt like a failure. I've blamed myself for every thing that has gone wrong.
And then, by Grace, I have started climbing uphill instead of down.
While there are some days, or some hours, minutes and fleeting seconds that I find myself being attacked by darkness, more often than I thought would be possible, I see things more clearly.
I see where I was, not all that long ago, and where I am now.
I am not homeless. I am not jobless. I am not jaded or bitter. I still believe in love, miracles, and redemption. I have three beautiful children who finally, after over a year, have stability, who are generally filled with smiles and laughter. Instead of endless days and nights of worry about the unknown, I see peace and an end in sight out there somewhere.
This is my first birthday in 14 years where I won't see my husband, my former best friend, for even a second. I won't hear his voice. I am not prepared for it, really, because I don't know how to prepare.
I have no plans, really. I don't want to party. The kids and I will eat cupcakes for breakfast, and then they will visit some friends. I will nap or go to bed early. I know that sounds lame to most, but with the endless exhaustion of this past year and the child-rearing exhaustion of the past five years, I feel like it's a pretty great gift. I expect nothing, ask for nothing, need nothing.
This birthday is very different. I'm not celebrating my increase in age like I have for 31 years. This year, I'm celebrating my survival of my 31st year. I'm celebrating overcoming the year since my last birthday. And if the time comes tomorrow where I break down and cry or struggle to breathe, I will come back here and read this and remind myself how great this birthday really is.