G and Lauren  left at their usual 6 this morning, their hushed morning sounds punctuated with the front door shutting behind them.  I snoozed in bed and woke a few minutes later to the soft clinking sounds of dishes and silverware.  Blurry eyed, I wrapped and tied my robe around me as I came downstairs and walked into the kitchen to investigate.  Maddy girl was padding back and forth, emptying the clean dishes from the dishwasher.

Spying me, she lit up.   And sent me back to bed.  I climb under my covers, warmed by the thought of a 12-year-old girl rising in the cold morning and remembering what I hadn't yet: it is my birthday.

* * *

Mom birthdays are weird.  You kind of want the special birthday treatment of your childhood but the world has to keep going, the one you help to power.  Breakfast to make. Clothes to launder. Meetings to attend.  An empty house while the kids are in school (making me realize: kids aren't alone on their birthdays!).  I come home from a meeting to find a special gift left on the doorstep.  The Jehovah's Witnesses have left me a Watchtower tucked under our doormat. (How did they know?)

* * *

In a fit of morbidness, I look up the US life expectancy figures.  Hmm.  Apparently I really am in middle age since the life expectancy for someone in the US is exactly double the year I am turning.  Cheers, me!

* * *

I have a new affinity for Facebook today.  I joined sometime last year and, while it was interesting, I kind of didn't get it.  The updates are kind of funny and it's really nice to know what random people you know are up to.  For example:
  • my friend from Tufts who now lives in Sarajevo is taking a vegetarian cooking class today
  • a blogging friend wonders why blowing a chimney sweep a kiss is lucky (hi Linsey!)
  • a friend from our neighborhood in Virgina 10 years ago is trying to make pumpkin pie from real pumpkins
  • G's cousin is playing Break the Ice with her kids
So, yes, that part is interesting. But I just wasn't a Facebook fanatic yet.  But today I am getting birthday wishes galore: cousins, friends, fellow students, former students!   I even got a note from the boy who, during elementary school, wrote "Larry + Annie=True Love" in marker across the 4th grade blackboard.  He wished me a happy one and reminded me he used to call me ABC (my initials AB plus his last name C).  So, thanks Facebook for being my personal PR machine.

* * *

This is the last year in my thirties.  I think I had all sorts of hopes and plans of becoming a better version of myself by now.  But, as a little birthday gift to myself (and because I got my birthday present--a camera--early this year), I will simply remind myself what I already know--all I need for a happy future, sappy but true:

1. Love. Look at those kids, that husband, those parents and siblings.  They love you.  You love them.  Feel it.  Let that warm you or lift you when you need it to.

2. Exercise really is the magic vitamin for you.  You might rationalize it away from the comfort of your bed but give yourself the favor of moving around and feeling alive.  Yoga. Running. Walking. Biking. Dancing like a crazy person.  Just do it.  And breathe.

3.  Create everyday: stories, laughter, photos, prayers, life, ideas.

4.  Don't ever get a perm again.  You learned this 20 years ago and it still holds today (I first heard this from Cathy Zielske and wholly concur).

* * *

Did you ever play this at parties? 

Heavy heavy hangover, thy poor head (what? were we talking about hangovers?)
What do you wish with a *bump* on your head?

And then the giver would hit the birthday kid with the present and the birthday kid would give them a wish, as in "I wish you would get a baby sister." Or "I wish a horse for you."

That was kind of an odd tradition, don't you think?  And don't even get me started about spanking machines...