I turned 35 this past week. Thirty-five feels neither old, nor young. I guess it’s technically the start of the middle aged years, but that’s about as relevant as the first day of winter being technically three weeks away still.
I spent close to a week celebrating my birthday this year. We brought Little Handsome to my parents’ house to spend a couple of days – the first time he’d been away from us overnight. The only one who shed tears over the event was me, as we drove away and I watched my very grown up 3-year-old waving, smiling and blowing silly air kisses, and feeling for probably the first time the struggle mothers feel as they raise their children to be independent. Big Handsome and I spent two lovely, quiet days together: we had a nice dinner out, watched a matinee at the cinema, read books uninterrupted, ate breakfast at 9:30 am. We pulled out the engagement and wedding albums that had been in storage for over 5 years, and reminisced as we read our thoughts from those somehow simpler, more naïve days (while eating impromptu peanut butter cookies – see recipe below). Then my mom came and brought back our darling son, and she and I enjoyed a lovely lunch out and live performance of White Christmas in St. Jacob’s. All together, a beautiful way to commemorate my birthday, I believe.
My birthday always falls close to American Thanksgiving, but I don’t need a holiday to remind me to look back over the years and be grateful. There are so many experiences, events, and people that have contributed to shaping me into this person that I am. And I appreciate each one. I also look forward to the experiences, events and people who will continue to help me grow into the person I am becoming.
It seems odd that after 35 years of living, there is still so much I struggle with, so few skills I have mastered, so little I know of life. That’s not to say I’m not proud of my accomplishments and personal growth. But when I was young, I figured I’d have more figured out by “middle age”. What I do know is that life is beautiful, and complicated and full of contradictions. And people are fascinating and frustrating and wonderful. And love is life-giving and necessary and hard.
I know that joy is a worthwhile pursuit. True friendship is a treasure. Fears are surmountable. Easy times are usually followed by tough ones. Difficult times produce growth. Good health is a gift. Distance is relative. Family is precious. Beauty can be found anywhere. Anticipation makes things sweeter. People can change. The human mind is very powerful. Each day is filled with precious moments, waiting to be discovered.
I know these things, but I don’t always remember them. That’s one thing I’d like to work on this year – internalizing the truths I know but “forget” when it seems more appealing or convenient or comfortable. This seems a formidable task at times, so I think one yearly goal is enough. That, and being kinder to myself, including making more semi-healthy treats when the mood strikes.
Impromptu Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
(*All measurements approximate. These are impromptu cookies, after all)
1 ripe banana
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup flour (I used a gluten-free mix)
sprinkle of ground flax seed
squeeze of honey
few shakes of cinnamon
dash of sea salt
some baking powder
Instructions: Mash banana, add other ingredients, mix and roll into balls. Flatten slightly and bake in preheated oven (350F) for 12 minutes. Enjoy!
One last thing I’d like to add. Instead of buying a gift, I asked Big Handsome to write me a poem for my birthday. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share the poem with all of you, but I don’t want it to ever get lost, and this seems a good place to store it for now. Besides, it’s beautiful.
The Seasons of Us
It was WINTER when I first met you
The season when chilly weather drives
hopeful young lovers to embrace each other
for warmth and shelter
It was the end of a long winter for both of us
As our hearts warmed to the idea
that here was someone
with whom we might build a shelter
to nurture love’s spark
and grow it to a flame
It was SPRING when we were wed
The season when new life springs
from a time that feels long devoid of growth
It was the start of a new life for both of us
As we gazed into an unknown future
where only the next step seemed clear
and we thought we knew each other
but had yet to discover how much we still had to learn
though we knew just enough
to know that our lives were better together than apart
It was SUMMER when we moved across the world
The season when the sun drives
happy children outdoors to soak in its rays
and play with friends under the boundless sky
It was the start of an endless summer for both of us
As we soaked in a new culture,
and made new friends,
and made a new life,
and made a new life inside you
who has grown to be our boundless joy
It was FALL when we came here
And it was FALL when you were born
The season when the old leaves fall away
to make space for new beginnings to grow
It was the start of a new season for both of us
As we learned how important it is to nurture love’s spark
As we discovered how to make a better life together
As we created another new life inside you
As we let our old life fall away
to make space for our new beginning,
our new future,
our new season,
November 27, 2013