This year’s birthday celebrations occurred this weekend. It was one of the best birthdays I’ve had.
It was also probably the most unique. As I was sitting at lunch yesterday, with friends of years and years, I couldn’t help but notice how times have changed.
Then: My love interest of the moment would have greeted me the morning of my birthday with breakfast in bed, mimosas, and a romantic card. I would have likely teared up at the words in the card. This would have been followed by the presentation of some lavish and expensive gift – jewelry, watch, out of town weekend, etc. I would have immediately been on the phone with my girlfriends – guess what so-and-so got me for my birthday!
Now: Hubby and I awake to the sound of crying on the baby monitor. We stumble, bleary-eyed, into the nursery to change his diaper, and then hubby sets him on my lap in the rocker. He leaves the room and returns with a gift bag and two cards. I quickly ready through hubby’s card, thank him, and then pore over my son’s card. His card makes me tear up. I open the bag and am over the moon to pull out books by Dr. Seuss and others with titles about green eggs and ham, colors, numbers, zoo animals, and being a big boy. I then pull out a huge photo album with pictures and mementos of our lives – from dating to marriage to the birth of our son. I am also told I can pick something out at the mall over the weekend. I don’t even care about that and instead immediately begin reading Dr. Seuss to my son. Hubby tops off the moment by taking pictures of us sitting there, reading, with me in my sweats and fuzzy slippers and bedhead hair. Messy. Unshowered. Happy.
Then: I would have gone to work and seen my cubicle decorated by my work friends. I would have had a cake, cards, and gifts, and my closest work girlfriends would have taken me to an extended lunch at a fancy restaurant. My current love interest would have sent me a dozen roses for all my colleagues to ooh and aah over.
Now: I work from home on my birthday and am able to spend some extra time reading to my son. My sister calls about 7am to have my niece and nephew sing me Happy Birthday. I throw on sweats and take care of the morning’s round of conference calls and emails in the home office. I take a break and come out into the living room, where hubby is feeding my son pureed mango. I take a few pictures and then cuddle and play with him. For my birthday lunch, I ask my hubby to make me a grilled cheese sandwich. I receive birthday flowers delivered by my family. I handle the afternoon’s meetings and then take a break to tour a local preschool. I come back to a few more emails and then call it a day at 5pm so I can do some Tummy Time with baby.
Then: The evening of my birthday would have been a bash! All my closest friends would have been there. Pre-dinner drinks at my place or a friend’s, lavish dinner at a nice restaurant complete with cocktails, wine, and after-dinner drinks, and then dancing/more drinking at one or more clubs or bars. Everyone would have ended up at somebody’s house, talking, laughing, drinking some more. Rounds of shots would have been purchased and consumed throughout the evening. Everyone having a blast.
Now: The evening of my birthday I’m exhausted. The baby goes down at 7pm. Hubby and I talk a bit and then I veg out in front of the TV for an hour or two. Hubby makes dinner and we discuss the latest episode of Shark Tank. I put on some PJs and read my Kindle until I fall asleep shortly thereafter.
Then: The “day after” my birthday bash I would have been ruined. Hungover. Exhausted. I would have slept until at least noon, and then dragged myself (or have had current flame drag me) to a greasy spoon for some oily food to help with the hangover. Water water water. I would’ve vegged out in front of the TV the remainder of the day, napping, drinking water, and popping Tylenol.
Now: The day after my birthday begins at 4:45am. I am up bright and early, thinking about things I need to get done for the baby this weekend. Sister texts me at 6am – RISE AND SHINE!! By 10am, we’ve met with my sister and family and close friends with kids at the local aquarium. The next few hours are spent checking out exhibits, taking pictures, chasing kids, calming kids, and Aunties and Uncles taking advantage of the beer sold in the outdoor lagoon.
One of my favorite moments while watching the octopus who is hiding in a small corner of the aquarium:
FRIEND: Every time I come here it is always hiding in the corner over there.
ME: I guess it must be camera shy.
FRIEND’S 9-YEAR-OLD: [Rolling his eyes at us like we’re complete idiots] It’s not camera shy… It’s nocturnal!
Afterwards we slowly (think: herding cats) make our way to an outdoor restaurant. I comment that I feel like we are The Griswolds. We arrive, and a couple friends and I have a drink at the bar while waiting for a table. Skinny margarita for me. The irony is not lost on us that typically those pre-meal drinks would have begun about 8pm vs. noon.
We get a table and settle in. Strollers parked in the lobby. Niece has to use the restroom. Son needs a diaper change. Older kids coloring on the paper menus. Drinks arrive. Appetizers arrive. Food is here. Hubby comments that the table almost makes up everybody who had attended my college graduation celebration years before. We look around and – he’s right! A few missing, yet the group is larger due to all the new kids. More pictures. “Remember when” stories. I lament a bit that I’ll be unable to make an evening event to celebrate one of the other birthdays – as we don’t have a sitter (wow – still feels weird to hear ME say that). Birthday dessert arrives. Blow out the candle while holding my son. Feed him some mango. No after-dinner drinks. Bill arrives and checks are split by family. Some have to leave for other commitments, some are heading back to the aquarium. Sister and I decide to walk over to the local kids’ arcade.
Arrive at the arcade and we take the kiddies on the carousel. We get a kick out of sister riding on the horse while everyone else sits in a seat. Play the basketball game. Ride the motorcycle. Play Dance Revolution. Complete a car race with niece. Nephew falls off the chair and bruises his forehead. Adults swarm. He’s okay. More pictures. Niece picks out prize with the winning tickets.
Walk back towards the aquarium. Come across a water taxi. $1 a head. Decide to take it around the harbor. Kids love it. Pictures. Driver (or is it sailor??) laughing. Niece announces herself as co-captain and proceeds to tell everyone where to sit and what to do. As we near the next piece of shoreline she stands up on the seat and yells LAND HOOOOO!!
Exit the water taxi. Change diaper in the stroller. Feed baby. Ponder whether or not we have time left (before kids get too fussy to handle) to sit for a snack and drink. Once nephew starts crying, determine that we do not. Re-board the water taxi and herd everyone back towards the aquarium.
Home by 7pm. Put baby to bed and fall asleep on the couch. Completely miss the neighbor’s reception we had all been invited to. Solid sleep. Deep and refreshing sleep.
And this is my new life. Extremely different. Filled with diapers, bottles, baby bags, and lively kids of friends and family. A life whose focus has shifted from the late evenings to the early mornings. A life thick with responsibility and sleepless nights. A life with a soundtrack of coos, cries, screams, and giggles. And it is good.