The thing that I really enjoy about writing is that it allows me to take a snapshot of an experience in my mind and then capture it in words on paper.
It has been challenging over the years as a single mom to feel recognized for all the hard work I have done. This is especially true on my birthday.
Yes, birthdays come and birthdays go. When your children are young they color pictures of flowers and princesses and they make you burnt toast for breakfast. It is all very wonderful and exciting to see the sparkle in their young eyes as they eagerly await your praise. The smiles light up their face as you exclaim your surprise at how wonderful their thoughtful actions make your day. But for single moms like myself, there really isn’t anyone other than me to teach my children how to give back.
I have always made it a point to celebrate my children’s birthdays. I felt that it was important for them to know how very special they are and how blessed this world is to have them in it. And while I am not the mom that goes to the cake decorating classes or hires an event planner for their special day, I am a mom that did her best to make their day special.
However, over the years, that has not always been reciprocated. In fact, I can recall a birthday or two where I actually made my own cake and went without receiving any presents from my children. No big deal in the big scheme of things, but certainly not the best feeling to think that no one cares on your own special day. There was no dad around to take them to the store, to remind them to give back to their mom. No one else to teach them how important it is to say thank you. Just me, and on my birthday I didn’t feel that I should have to do that. So it just didn’t get done.
But this year was different. Finally, after many birthdays of wishing for more, I can proudly say that on my 47th birthday, my children finally seemed to get it right.
I went to work. I had a pretty severe cold and I was not feeling very well. “Another day, that’s all it was,” I thought. No big deal. Age is just a number after all. My staff at work brought cards and we all went out for lunch. I made it through the day as best I could and was ready to get home and change into my sweats and just lay down.
When I got home I did exactly that. My older 2 boys were being secretive and asked to borrow the car. My daughter came over with my grandson bearing a gift bag full of unknown presents and a big beautiful triple layer chocolate cake. (My love affair with cake is a whole other subject!) She wanted me to open my presents right away but I wanted to wait until the boys came home and we had dinner.
We ordered Chinese food and Amanda went to pick it up. Ben and Nathan came back with another beautiful cake!! “Happy 47th Birthday Mom” was written across the top in pink icing while beautiful roses decorated the corners.
“Two cakes!” I exclaimed in surprise! “Two cakes!” How many birthdays had gone by with no cake and here I was getting two!
After dinner we sat at the kitchen table with both of my cakes lit up with candles and the 5 most precious people in my life singing Happy Birthday to me. And that, my friends, is the snapshot I will NEVER forget as long as I live. My tears were falling while my heart was swelling with such a feeling of love and gratitude. Gratitude not only for those lovely cakes and thoughtful gifts, but overwhelming gratitude that at the end of the day, after all is said and done, that my children got it! They really got it! I saw the love in their eyes for me. I saw and felt the gratitude in their hearts for me. And after so many years of craziness, somehow, someway, something I said or did, made it into their hearts.
All the angels is heaven singing to me could not have brought a greater stirring to my heart than that little birthday song sung to me by my children did that evening. And it is in those moments of life, when we are completely aware, that we are kissing some sort of perfection. They come swiftly, and are gone as quickly as they come, but when you experience them in your heart, those perfect moments are truly the greatest gifts of all.
So yes, if you ask me if I had a nice birthday this year, I would have to tell you that in spite of being sick, in spite of having to work, the answer would be a resounding YES! I had the Best Birthday EVER! Thanks to my kids. They do love me. They do appreciate me. And they are learning how to give back. Nothing matters more. Nothing.
Written by Debbie Brown