Thankfully, birthdays are just once a year. Makes it all the more special.
Any more frequent and I wouldn’t be able to recognize myself, oozing entitlement and extra fat:
“If I want left over chow fun for my first meal, the last of the chow fun I was saving for my ‘fat noodoo’-loving second son, I shall eat that chow fun. It can’t always be about the kids.
And if that handful of beef chow fun doesn’t look like it’s going to fill me up, I shall help myself to some leftover pizza as well.
Oh, and I don’t want to take care of x, y, and z today. SO I WON’T. It’s my birfday! I see Kevin over there, tryna regulate the boys but I will just sit here. It’s my birfday and only a few hours left.”
This birthday was a breath of fresh air as I didn’t have to hustle for my worth all day. I seem to give myself permission to not hustle when I am sick or on special occasions like my birthday. This year, I was sick on my birthday.
I woke up feeling moved to tears, grateful to be alive, for the breath in my lungs, for the beaming baby in the bassinet she has outgrown, and for the family members climbing in to our King to wish me a happy birthday.
The world is grieving after major hurricanes hit Texas, Florida and most recently, the entire island of Puerto Rico. People are suffering and our President does not know how to show compassion and respect as he throws paper towels at the people of Puerto Rico, like a big buffoon mistaking the gathering to be a sports event.
A few nights ago, as we tucked in our newly minted five year old on his birthday, an American terrorist killed at least 59 people at a concert in Vegas, in what has been reported as “the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.” Thankful for small graces as we were spared news of this horror until the next morning, when it was no longer E’s birthday.
For the first time that I can recall or maybe the first time ever, my birthday landed on the same day as Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving. It also landed on the same day or around the same time as friend’s losses. I honored life, in all of its beauty, its fragility, its robustness and its unpredictability. As cheesy as it is, I was so grateful to be alive.
I am jotting this down so that I can look back and recall that on this birthday, I was blessed with:
-a friend’s visit, her arms full of a ridiculous amount of hand-me-downs for Olive, along with a cupcake for Mama and a welcome gift for Olive,
-my kids’ cards and the accompanying innocence and confidence that those sheets of markered up paper would more than suffice (and they did),
-hearing from friends throughout the entire day,
-my mom singing me “Happy Birthday” on FaceTime and then getting embarrassed when I said oh, a friend is over right now,
-Kevin’s gifts and insistence on getting my own cake even though I texted him “No need for cake. We have Ellis’ leftovers. Don’t want to start forest (hills) fire.” He didn’t get my reference to my mature age and forest fire due to number of candles and texted back, “Fire in FH?”
-Kevin’s surprise of surf and turf at home. Surf – he picked up my faves, fried softshell crab and oysters. Turf – he made us all galbi-jjim (braised short rib).
-I got to say a birthday prayer as I blew out my candles with my family surrounding me, including the new kid I am cross-eyed in love with. Then she went to bed easily in her too-small bassinet so that Daddy and I can watch some TV.
It was a simple and gorgeous birthday I hope to always remember. Gorgeous in its simplicity. My heart is still bursting with gratitude.