I'm not sure how I feel about it, to be honest.
Back in the days before I met "The Guy" and married, I dreaded inching ever closer to thirty, feeling the pangs of all I had yet to accomplish with every passing year. I was never particularly career-driven, only family-driven, and I longed for the right guy, the right situation, and the chance to finally have a family of my own.
Now, I'd say we've done pretty well on that front. We've had three kids in three years; our days are nothing if not busy. Our hearts are full to bursting. I suppose I've got my "happily ever after" right now. Life is hard a lot of the time, but it cannot be denied that it is good.
So, I certainly don't dread my birthdays as I once did, but nor do I look forward to them with the jubilance of youth. I do fear, on some level, the realities of growing older and I can't say that I've come to embrace that unavoidable part of my future just yet.
In the end, it seems largely irrelevant since- for the past couple of years- I seem to have lost the capability of keeping track of my own age, anyway. All this past year long I've had to do the math in my head to check myself, and I expect that the years going forward will be no different (except, perhaps, that eventually I'll have to do that math on paper).
One thing I'm realizing this year, though, is that however ambivalent I may feel about what it means to be a year older, there will be reason to celebrate the day marking the occasion ever more as the years go by (for awhile, at least). My children are all so very small now, but I imagine that as they grow I will have handmade cards and trinkets galore to look forward to. Hugs, smiles, sticky kisses. Heartwarming gestures of love.
Already it has begun. Though Tom had to prepare my breakfast all by himself this year...
... perhaps as soon as next year Abby's chubby little fingers will be eager to place the toast. Maybe I'll find some of her colorful scribbles next to Tom's birthday card.
Despite her current inability to cook or craft, however, Abby was well-coached in her one task, which was to wish me a happy birthday as I came downstairs to join the gang. At first, she refused, instead insisting on "Bye bye, Mommy. Mommy has to go bye bye." (Thanks, Abby.) No worries, though, because her mantra inspired Michael to blurt out, "Ba ba mama," which had me erupting in squeals of elation, and poor, shy little Michael ducking a bashful head. I could see the pride in his face as he hid his eyes from me, though.
Of course, the positive reaction that Michael got changed Abby's tune, and before long she was running at me, all smiles, with a big "Happy Birthday" bursting from her cherub lips.
It was a good morning, and a good day, with long, drama-free naps from every child and a blessed return to the rhythms of our usual routine.
In the evening, there was dairy-free chocolate cake, lovingly baked by Tom, with a yummy raspberry syrup topping (prepared under Abby's careful supervision).
Abby also made a valiant effort to blow out my candles as Tom presented a quarter of the finished product to me (the rest got stuck in the pan, apparently). She seemed not to notice that she was too far away to have an effect, and was most interested in the eating part, anyway. No sooner were the flames extinguished than I heard her repeating, over and over, "Can we take out the candles? I need cake."
And cake she had.