In two days, I will celebrate my 46th birthday.
I can't look at that number without chuckling because it is the same age my mom once was, only then, it was as ancient as Mesopotamia to me. Now *I* will be the bearer of 16,790 days of life experience, and yet I feel remarkably...not old.
2010 was a year of change for me, and more often than ever before, I'd find myself pondering my life, my choices, my circumstances. Like most 46-year-old women, I have teeny white Christmas lights strung across the headboard of my bed. I like to lie there at night, looking at them, thinking. At first, I could only think about how cool those lights were. Everything looks better--dreamier--in the soft glow of white Christmas lights. It's true. Scientific studies have proven it. Now I have too.
But as I grew accustomed to having a purple bedroom with white Christmas lights on the headboard and vibrantly dyed Mexican sarongs hanging in the windows, my thoughts turned elsewhere, to more...grown-up musings. And eventually, I realized I was deconstructing my life as it has unfolded thus far. And here's what I know:
I know I've done the best I could. I think even as a young girl, I approached everything I did with 100% commitment to do it to the best of my ability. Whether it was my nature or a learned attitude or a bit of both, I can say I take great solace in the certainty that even if I didn't always make the choice a more prudent me would have made, I did, at least, dedicate myself to that choice and seeing it reach its potential.
I know I've grown and stretched beyond my comfort zone more in times of strife and conflict than in times of general peace. I've come to recognize the blessings inherent in even the most agonizing tribulations, and knowing those blessings serve a purpose makes forging through the challenges worthwhile.
I know I am one stubborn mother...and sister, friend, lover, etc. My iron will is a double-edged sword that both protects and at times wounds me. I've learned to wield it more carefully as I've aged.
I know I need very little to be happy. But I also know I can be happy with more. It's comforting to be able to straddle that line between struggle and abundance and feel at ease on either side.
I know that I deserve more than I've historically allowed myself to have. In every way.
I know that my children are so much a part of me--and I of them--that though we may one day live apart, we will always be together. They are the best things I've ever done with my time, energy, and love.
I know I'm no picnic. I'm opinionated. I can be loud. I am outspoken and don't need anyone's approval. I am not always diplomatic and I know how to use words as weapons. I don't let people inside my life easily and there will always be secrets I don't tell even those closest to me. At times I am remarkably vulnerable even as I stand strong in the face of great challenge. I protect my heart because it has been broken so often, always by those who claim to love me most. But at 46, I know there's more room in my heart for love precisely because it has been so boldly broken.
I also know I am worth the effort. I am simple yet complex, a free spirit who is demanding in some ways yet refreshingly low maintenance in others. I believe in the goodness of people and strive to find it, even if it brings me to my knees. I love fiercely and passionately, and support those I hold most dear even if I can't agree with what they're doing. I know joy and I share it without reservation. I believe in promises I've been given until they're broken. Then I believe again. I laugh a lot and never pass up a chance to let those people I love know how dear they are to me.
And most recently, I know that being independent doesn't necessarily mean standing alone. It doesn't mean I can't lean on someone when my own legs feel wobbly. I can be independent and still reach out for that hand to hold, that whisper to guide, that look to reassure. I can, finally, accept as my own the love I have always been willing to give.
So. Happy Birthday to me.