My husband is 50 today. 50! A few short weeks after my daughter turned 10. 10!
Elizabeth was two weeks old when James turned 40. I was so fried from the demands of a newborn and the intensity of feeding, fussing, jaundice and no sleep, I stuck a pink bow on her head and called it “Happy birthday”. I claimed that I gave him his first child for his 40th birthday- and really, there’s no better present than that!
We celebrate “0” birthdays- big. When I turned 30, I was in Williamsburg, and had a huge party with all of my friends there from graduate school. I danced in a dress from Mexico- all flounces and color. Pictures show me with stars in my eyes, glowing with happiness. James and I had met three months before, I was in love, and surrounded by new romance, friends, and sense of direction. It was an amazing birthday.
When James turned 40, we were in Fort Myers, FL. I gave him a daughter. Pictures show us with circles of exhaustion under our eyes, I’m still in pajamas- the same ones I wore for a week straight, I think. My mother was there and she was holding us together in those first days of new parenthood. But we were alight with the joy- and the anxiety- of the future. It was an amazing birthday.
When I turned 40, I celebrated by having most of my very close girlfriends meet me on the Outer Banks of North Carolina-including my mother and my daughter!- where we walked the beach, had massages and pedicures, watched mama foxes scout ahead for her kits, and talked until late into the night. We talked of how our directions were changing, how the future was different than we expected, but how important friendship and love really were. It was an amazing birthday.
And now… now Elizabeth and James have “0” birthdays in the same year. And this year- full of anxiety and challenges-… these birthdays are promises. Promises that I hope we can keep sooner, rather than later. Promises of traveling- going to England and watching Manchester United play a game- a real one- at Old Trafford Stadium, rather than merely watching on TV. Promises of “stopping by ” Paris- since we’re over there, anyways, so that Elizabeth can see the Eiffel Tower- the real one. Promises that were so close to reality… but aren’t.. yet.
Instead, Elizabeth got a card with a picture of the Eiffel Tower, and James got a card with a picture of the very hotel we’re going to stay in Manchester. Elizabeth invited 5 of her friends over for a manicure/pedicure/ sleepover night- which, while it wasn’t quite as challenging as last year, still had its challenges. Challenge that are not new ones- ones that some down time, some quiet time can solve. Really- not even worth talking about. It’s been 10 years of learned lessons. But there were pancakes and presents and lots of giggling and a shared joke of “single digit midget… OH, double digit midget!” And Red Velvet Cake.
And James will enjoy dinner at home in Georgia with my Chinese Chicken after a long week of traveling- with his family and we will have balloons and singing and posters and pictures of Old Trafford Stadium- and Lemon Cake. And promises of not now- but soon. Perhaps in time for Ray’s “0” birthday next year.
No matter where we are, there are friends, and family and love surrounding us all. And even though autism and Tourette’s are uninvited guests, this year, they are well-mannered, mostly staying in the backgrounds where we accommodate around them.
Amazing birthdays. (And look out Eiffel Tower- we’ll get there! And please forgive me a little bit of pouting)