Today was my birthday. I turned 34. How the hell did that happen? I swear it was just a moment ago that I was a cute 22 year old starting graduate school. Now....now I'm freaking buying anti-wrinkle tonics galore at Macy's with my friends hoping to fend off crow's feet and all sorts of other signs of wear and tear! Thank goodness my mother always insisted that I moisturize....I owe her my good skin :) But good genes and moisturizing can only go so far :(
All kidding aside, my mother has always had the best attitude about age. With women, there is the stereotype that we hate getting older and that after 29 we stop counting. For the most part, I'd venture to say that the stereotype fits. However, my mother always had an extremely healthy way of looking at aging. I vividly remember her saying (when her brothers or cousins teased her about getting older) that each birthday she celebrated was a gift from God, another year to be here on this earth with the people she cherished the most. The earliest I remember hearing her say this was when I was 10, which would make her 40. I grew up thinking that getting older was a blessing. I joke about being old at 34. I don't believe it. Nor do I wish I could stop time. Each year brings growth and wisdom, heartbreak and delight. I look back at who I was at 22 and even ten years ago at 24 and I am not the same person. That is the beauty of getting older. If we are open to it, we learn the myriad of lessons life has to teach us. The biggest lessons in my life have been to not live in fear and to be patient. I have come a long way but I have miles to go!
As I took Teddy to school, he gave me the biggest hug and kiss. He told me that he was so proud of me, that I was the bestest mom in the universe, and that he loved my kisses most of all! Boy does he know how to make a girl feel special or what!?!?
My birthday was lovely. Friends came by to visit. I had a fabulous CPK (California Pizza Kitchen) lunch and played a competitive round of Wii with friends....Nina beat us all :) While I picked up Teddy, Eileen and Nina made cupcakes for me. As Teddy and I walked to the car, he lamented that I was only getting two birthday presents. "Mama...you should get many more presents! You work so hard and take such good care of us....you need more than two presents...I just feel bad, that I'm not being a good son!" This boy is pure sweetness (I remind myself of this every evening when I want to scratch my eyes out during homework!). I reminded him how incredible he was and that he and Nina are my two greatest gifts. He rolled his eyes in the Geez, you're a mom...you're suppose to say that! Little does he know that I mean those word! He and Nina are my greatest gifts in life!
After picking up Teddy from school, Eileen, the kids, and I went for a walk on Goleta Beach. The kids had an incredible time. Nina's ataxia was getting worse. She could no longer walk unassisted. Nonetheless this limitation didn't keep her from scaling the bank of the beach. She was determined to be like Teddy and climb up the embankment. Sure enough....eventually she did (my my assistance :) but she did it!). She then proceeded to pretend she was throwing snowballs at us, but instead of snow, it was sand. Eileen and I were so determined to get a photo of her smiling that we didn't care....at least until I got pegged with a sandball right in the mouth! Yuck!! EIleen of course thought it was hilarious...sadistic rascal!
Although I know that 34 isn't old, I feel like I'm at least 90! My life, even prior to Nina, was a potential Lifetime Movie of the Week contender. Now, with this nightmare, it's most definitely a shoe-in!
After our stroll at the beach we had a lovely dinner. Todd and the kids frosted the cupcakes Eileen and Nina had made earlier in the day and the kids eagerly gave me their presents. Todd and the kids gave me a lovely frame with 3 photos of the kids for my new office. Teddy then jumped in and proudly gave me his gift. When I opened it, my mouth dropped. It was stunning; a Willow Tree figurine of a woman loving life, arms outreached with birds perched on them. I hugged him with all my might and thanked him. Instantly, he knew he'd done a great job and his beautiful grin stretched across his sweet face, "You like it mama?" "I ADORE it lovebug! I LOVE it!!!" The biggest grin ever spread across his darling face. He proudly and jokingly added, "Well, don't thank me, thank Holly. She took me shopping. She's the nicest lady ever!" I couldn't resist cracking up! I squeezed him and Nina some more. What delightful treasures I have!
For the remainder of the evening we pretty much hung out. At bedtime, I thanked the kids again for my gifts. Nina turned to Eileen and explained that she wanted to go shopping for my birthday too. Eileen jumped at the opportunity to go shopping with the queen :) My birthday was simply lovely! However, perhaps my favorite part about my birthday was what Holly told me later on. She explained that Teddy had asked her to take him shopping. Initially, they had gone to a chocolate store where Teddy had stated that I wasn't a chocolate kind of gal :) Amazing how children watch us and note our likes and dislikes. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Teddy knows me so well; it just melts my heart to hear that he does and that he puts so much effort and thought into me!
Eventually, they made it another store that had the Willow Tree figurines. Apparently, Teddy told Holly that I loved these (which is true!) and that I have a nativity from this collection (also true!). After Teddy picked out my figurine Holly told him that the placard describing the piece said it was entitled Happiness. What Teddy said next is what made my birthday, what is my favorite birthday gift ever. After Holly told him the name of the figurine he noted, "That's perfect because my mom loves happiness!" My mouth dropped to the ground and then after I collected it back up, I laughed in sheer delight! My sweet, 8 year old son knows me as well as my very best of friends. He knows that I love happiness, probably because I'm constantly riding him to reframe his negative attitude into a positive one :) Whatever the reason, Teddy knows me. His love is astounding and whether or not he thinks it is momish of me, he and Nina are my greatest gifts!!!