I'm turning 32 and I've never been to a happy hour. I don't kow what that means exactly. Maybe it means nothing. I get a little melancholy every time I'm about to have a birthday. It's not that I'm afraid of getting older, exactly. I'm not. Not afraid- not of getting older, per se. I don't worry so much about losing my beach body, because I've never had one. I don't fear gray hair or wrinkles- my mom looks great with her silver crown and her skin, though softer and looser, has a lovely bronzed healthiness to it that most admire. It's more the time that sort of freaks me out, the amount of time I have to experience everything, do everything, be everything.
My best friend babysat my children last night while my husband and I went to marriage counseling (I'm still hanging in there, though I seriously considered firing the kind-hearted know-it-all after she slyly pointed out that I may be contributing equally to our communication problems. What am I paying her for, if not for ammunition that I can actually use in later fights at home? She and I will talk). During said friend's time with my two, not-so-low-key children, she played with them, ran around the house, listened to their stories, answered questions, solved riddles, explained the American legal system (yes, my eight year old now knows the difference between full and limited tort) and generally provided a space for them to enjoy one another. It got me to thinking, how often do I provide that space for my children? For myself? Each year as another birthday rolls around I make a mental list of all the things I haven't done: Happy hours, skinny dipping, skydiving, visit Asia, baked scones, used a reciprocating saw, learned to play the piano, worn a bikini, climbed a mountain, taken a painting class... The list goes on and on. Some things remain from to year, some things get checked off -master's degree- check, make love outside-check, begin writing again-check, start my own business- check (you can probably guess which one of these I'm most proud of). But, the list never gets any shorter and things like 'laugh heartily' and 'look deeply into my daughter's bottomless brown eyes' can seem so small and so low on the list that I forget to check them off, let alone to savor them. A few days ago as I was unbuckling her carseat she just looked so beautiful that I stopped and stared at her for a minute. She was a little embarrassed at first but then she settled into looking back at me. I told her that soon she'd be in a booster seat and then she'd be a big girl and I wanted to remember what it was like to see her small and round and soft with baby curls and itty bitty teeth. It felt like the spirit of God was smiling at us while we smiled at each other. That moment will never make the list of things that impress people. She's only four, she may never remember sitting there with me, in the driveway, just wasting time while everything on my to-do list had to shut up and wait. But, I will never forget that moment. I am writing about it now, just a few days before my birthday, before all of those other items creep onto that list. I'm writing it down first, to put it at the top of my list.