Since I became a mom, I have fallen prey to the one tragic thing I heard happens to some moms but never believed would happen to me, and that is the almost compulsive urge to put someone else’s needs first, before my own, all day err day. This is antithetical to my whole existence and it’s frankly a pretty cruel characteristic of parenting.
Yes, that’s right, being completely responsible for keeping a human alive and thriving has somewhat dampened my previously unflappable drive to focus entirely on buying expensive shoes. (To wit, I am currently barefoot.) Randy recently reminded me that my birthday is coming up and suggested we should do something nice. My first thought was, but we’re in the middle of a nap transition and it’s been pretty bumpy and we’re all overtired and Moses needs me, so I can’t possibly stop obsessing over whether he’s getting enough sleep to think about what I might like to do on Saturday, SIX WHOLE CRAPPY NAPS FROM NOW. But then I thought, what if I did briefly put myself in my pre-Moses expensive shoes and devote two seconds to what I’d like to have or do for my birthday? Something really nice. Something just out of reach on a normal day. Something that would be just plain bananas enough to make the kind of gift we’ll all be talking about for years and years to come.
“A nap. I would like to take a nap on my birthday. I would also like to sleep in and go to bed early.”
I became a mom at the ripe old age of 35, which is a nice, round number. Months before Moses was born when I celebrated my last kid-less birthday, it was with balloons and presents and cake and ceremonious fanfare, doing things for myself and having things done for me. I spent the day taking a long, hot bubble bath in a perfectly decluttered bathtub with zero rubber duckies, eating fatty foods served to me leisurely by someone who didn’t have to clean disaster debris from around my chair after I left the table, and falling asleep standing up – because pregnancy exhaustion don’t fuck around – at a concert of my choosing with the man of my dreams and friends I love. It was really nice, even though it was remarkably devoid of beer.
I say this as if I’ve had so many birthdays since I became a mom. I haven’t. I’ve had one, but it passed us by without much notice – despite being gifted an exactly perfect new pair of shoes, a smart nod to the days of yore – before falling asleep at 9 p.m. Plus, this from my dad.
And now we’re closing in on my second birthday since Moses was born, and I feel as excited about it as I do the number itself. 37. An unceremonious number and an unceremonious year. But since Randy reminded me that my big unceremonious day is on the horizon, I’ve been thinking about what it means to have a birthday as a parent. How childhood birthday extravaganzas morph into just another quiet Saturday night of adulting. And how our impulse to celebrate time passing is now somewhat diminished by the crushing blow of waking up the next day older than dirt.
I recently remembered the to-do lists an old friend used to make on her birthday, enumerating all the new and exciting things she would explore or do that year. Her lists were made ever more profound by the fact that she was a multiple-time breast cancer survivor and she treated each new year as a gift, whereas I’m just like, ugh, I’m old and everything hurts. But the truth is, being a mom to Moses, a partner to Randy, and a me to me really does feel like a gift, every day. So to honor that, I’m taking a page from my friend’s book and making a list of 37 gifts I’d like to give myself this year. Gifts that feel good and make me happy. Gifts that are ceremonious in their unceremoniousness. Gifts that show appreciation for the good that grows around me. Gifts that restore my sense of self amidst the maelstrom of motherhood. And gifts that, in the process of that re-centering, just might make me a better mom. But if that fails, at least I still have all those fancy shoes from my 20s. Thank you, Jesus.
- Take a birthday nap
- Write a birthday blog
- Write a birthday blog for Randy
- Write a birthday blog for Moses
I obviously can’t be bothered to write as frequently as I did before Moses, but writing-to-remember-or-else-I’ll-forget remains my favorite way to take care of my memories, so I think it’s not too much to ask to crank out three essays a year. Three? Yes, three. Slow down, sister.
- See every 2016 Oscar-nominated movie
- See every 2017 Oscar-nominated movie
- Read Anne and Sam Lamott’s Some Assembly Required
- Belly flop into the Bay for San Francisco’s Special Olympics Polar Plunge
- Take Moses on his first overnight camping trip
- Grow tomatoes
- Share the bounty
- Enroll in TSA pre✓
- Master InDesign paragraph styles
- Wear every pair of shoes I own, at least once each
- Learn to cut hair
- Give Moses his first haircut (*sniff*)
- Use my passport
- Try not to Pinterest Fail this awesome DIY guitar
- Mail a handwritten thank-you letter to my mother
- Take a kid-free vacation with my husband
- Perfect my surf pop-up
- Document more with DSLR, less with iPhone
- Introduce Moses to Jimmy Carter
- Buy myself a really nice bag, the bag to end all bags, that can also be used as a diaper bag ¯_(ツ)_/¯
- Recycle a long-forgotten board book into a book of family faces
- Get a tattoo
- Make a perfect hollandaise sauce
- Take Moses to our polling station to vote for our next president
- Talk the nice old lady into two “I voted” stickers
- Design and bind the book of Moses’ birth story
- Beseech Randy to gift me a KitchenAid Stand Mixer for our new house
- Learn to make biscuits
- Buy fresh fish and then try real hard not to ruin it
- Finally ride my new skis
- See the sun rise on the East Coast
- And in the same day, watch it set on the West
- Spend my next birthday taking a long, hot bubble bath, eating fatty foods served to me leisurely, seeing a concert of my choosing with the man of my dreams – and beer, and taking one last whiff of Moses’ sleeping head before collapsing fat, happy and grateful on the eve of a brand new year
Happiest of birthdays to you this year, parents. Here’s to you. May you shower when you want and nap when you please. And may your baby person not wake when you drunkenly smell his head, because that would be a pretty shitty start to your new year.