Today is my birthday. It's kind of a big one. I'm a little depressed. My poor baby has been super sick all week with a nightmare virus he contracted at Mommy and Me class. All thirteen babies in class got it from one sick baby. Poor guy had blisters all over his body and face, even in his throat and mouth. He wouldn't eat anything for three days. Our week has consisted of nursing and cuddling dosed with baby Advil. Poor mama Marika has had no sleep all week. People have been posting on my FB wall that they hope I'm getting spoiled today. I got three hours of sleep last night and Xander was up for the day at 5am. I've never been one to thrive with a severe lack of sleep.
Kyri is at his twenty year college reunion at the Air Force Academy in Colorado and my parents are on safari in Africa (both went with my blessing to miss my birthday). My brother is scared to drive to my side of town since it's Carmageddon part II. I can't have play dates with mama friends or go to the park in fear Xander may still be contagious. He was up all night again last night so we spent my birthday morning at the pediatrician having him checked out. So, it's my poor sick baby and me today. Happy birthday to me. Thankfully tonight I'll be celebrating with a fabulous girls night out at the 80's concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Cant' wait!!
I always knew being a mother meant putting everyone else's needs before your own as I have witnessed my inspirational mother do so for my entire life. I have happily put Xander's needs before mine for the past thirteen months but today somehow truly solidifies this for me. And the fact of the matter is that nursing Xander and being his Mommy is the best birthday present I could ever ask for. He makes me happier than I've ever been before. Even severe lack of sleep can't change that.
I hate to admit the age that today brings, since no one including myself can actually believe it by looking at me. I still have a youthful glow. I've taken care of myself. I have great genes. We can call it whatever we want, the fact of the matter is I look (and seem!) younger I am. :) But that doesn't change the fact that I'm now forty. Strange number. Is it mid-life? Hopefully not. My grandmother is ninety three after all. It seems as though I should somehow feel old, yet I don't. My father died when he was forty-five. I was twelve. I know this has a lot to do with the fact that turning forty is difficult for me. In my father's world I'd be gone in five years. Impossible to imagine. I've spent my life with that number burned in my head. Forty-Five. He died when he was only forty-five. Far too young, obviously. Especially with two young children. We were all too young and not ready for his departure. Hardest time of my life.
Turning forty is therefore embedded in a multitude of layers of emotion for me. It makes me thrilled to be a mama to Xander, whom I consider to be the most amazing gift of my life. But it also makes yearn to be thirty five instead of forty with my one year old baby. To have a few years back would be so nice. My biggest regret is not having had babies earlier. It wasn't because I didn't want to. I lost four prime baby-making years to two neck surgeries, one spinal fusion and twenty seven procedures under anesthesia after a horseback-riding fall. It was a dark and difficult time in my life and it attests to my inner strength that I got through all the intense pain and depression and then got pregnant.
At the end of the day, we are where we are. I could wish I was thirty-five again. I could also wish I was a size zero again. We could all wish a lot of things. But here is where I'm supposed to be and I will therefore embrace it. I will embrace that though I'm forty everyone says I don't look a day over thirty. I will embrace that I have a beautiful baby and an amazing husband who loves me. I will embrace that though I lost my father at such a tender young age I am extraordinarily close with my amazing mother. I will embrace that I have a beautiful, blessed life. I know that God is up there watching down upon me smiling, saying that five years in the grand scheme of things is really nothing and that when I'm ninety five years old and have two or three grown children and four of five grandchildren I'll laugh about feeling melancholy at turning forty! I also know that my Daddy is up there watching down on me wishing me a very happy birthday, telling me I have the most perfect son in the world and how it's not a coincidence that Xander got his mesmerizingly gorgeous and very unique green/blue eyes. Looking lovingly into Xander's eyes is a gift I cherish every day.
Yes, happy birthday mama. It's not all about me any more and that's exactly how it should be. It's about my child, my family and making others happy. It's about my baby who makes me the happiest I've ever been just by smiling, laughing, nursing and playing. It's about looking forward to the glorious spa getaway weekend where Kyri, Xander and I are going to celebrate my birthday in a few weeks. It's about being able to occasionally sneak in a little time for myself to write and paint and to know that I'm not old but rather that the best part of my life has just begun.