So, I’m turning thirty-one on Saturday. I’m coming up on this birthday with really unfamiliar, less than peppy feelings. It’s creeping me out because I usually love my birthday.
I wouldn’t consider myself a “birthday” person in the way that I like being the center of attention or lots of presents bestowed. Honestly, that part of birthdays kind of causes me anxiety. It’s more that I like a reason to make pretty food and eat decadent cake and, perhaps most of all, I like the chance to feel like I have my very own New Year to re-calibrate my hopes and goals for this existence that’s unfolding in front of me. Everybody makes New Years resolutions and doesn’t keep them, but I find doing it on my birthday makes it feel much more like mine which in turn makes me much more likely to make a serious commitment to changing the things I don’t love about my life.
Each year I look at the year before and think about the year to come and it’s always a pretty motivating, positive reflection. I love a fresh start. I don’t get into that whole “I’m 29…again” thing. I like aging and growing wiser and having life well lived under my belt, so this isn’t a fear of getting old or anything like that. I don’t even mind my handful of gray hairs. Nor is it a career (or lack thereof) panic that Tim has every. single. year. about a month before his birthday. No, I’m just in a mood these days and maybe it just happens to coincide with the end of August.
This week last year I can remember being in full swing with parenthood and really feeling comfortable with being Si’s mommy, despite the upheaval of selling and buying and moving houses. I remember the feelings of anticipation and excitement for living in Lafayette, for finding community here, for Tim starting his new job that we thought he’d adore. I was in a really Positive Patty mode last year at this time.
This year, I look at the year we just survived as a family and it’s sobering. Tim was away so much, Silas grew and changed into a little boy–so long to his babyness, I went through a perfect-turned-stressful pregnancy and ended up with sweet Maren, and we really struggled in a lot of ways that continue to impact our lives. We made it. I suppose that’s what counts.
This week I feel quiet. I feel disconnected from friends who were once close and from my family in some ways. I feel ill at ease in this softer-than-usual body that carried and delivered two healthy babies in less than a year and a half. I feel out of sync in our marriage after a year so full of busyness that we sort of forgot how to be calm together. I am mourning the loss of extra energy that used to allow me some creativity (without holding it against motherhood, because shaping my babies’ hearts and minds is anything but a waste of time). I feel stuck in the precarious balance between being the mom I’m supposed to be and clinging for dear life to the woman I so carefully chose to become over the last decade.
On my birthday I will sit down and make some goals for the next year as I always do. I will envision our life and what I want to see in it in the coming months. I don’t believe in regretting things we did or can’t change, but I hope next August delivers me a reflection with an air of acceptance and love that far surpasses this year’s. And a little more energy to throw at my sense of purpose wouldn’t be too bad, either.
Do you have any birthday rituals? How about other ways to make it more meaningful? We love rituals around here.