The Completely Unspecial Unspectacular Birthday

“Mom, who drew on your belly?”

Now, my son is only three so it would have been inappropriate to throw him out of the window when he picked up my shirt and took a long look at my big, pregnant belly.

Instead I said, “nobody son. People just get those when their skin stretches out, like when they’re having babies.”

My husband thought the appropriate and helpful comment to contribute was “kiddo, do you even know how many babies were in that belly?”

Him, I could throw out of a window. My endless drip-supply of love for my husband keeps me in check. Or something.

There’s a je ne sais quoi to this “extra” baby. The surprise has worn off, and been replaced by exhaustion, fatigue and general “I don’t give a fuck-ery”. I’ve been too busy to really notice that tomorrow is my birthday and I’ll be another year older, meanwhile I’m still staring directly at the calendar reading the words “soccer practice”, “baby shower”, “sons’ birthday party”, “anniversary” and Halloween, while I try to remember which date I have a doctor’s appointment and whether or not I double booked it with the kids vaccinations.

Another year, another month full of obligations and responsibilities. I have adapted to my reality, and made the appropriate adjustments, the house isn’t some neatly organized photo out of “Real Simple” magazine, but with systems in place I’m starting to figure out how to be happy in this new role I’ve created for myself of “never ending baby maker”. And making time for my couch is pretty high on the priority list these days.

Last October the Fifth I turned thirty. I was happy to wave my nostalgic goodbye at the mistakes of my past and move into “thirties adulthood” with a prepared sense of purpose. It seemed like a milestone, my husband planned a surprise party for me, and he sent me out shopping while he took care of the kids and put out some food, and gathered our friends. It was a sweet gesture, it was appropriate, and it was miles apart from previous birthdays in my past.

In my twenties my husband and I would take weekends off together to celebrate my birthday, and we would travel to different cities, see bands, go out to bars and waste money like a couple of youngsters with the freedom to not care.

Even with one child in our quiver, we found a way to get a sitter, take a trip and party into my twenty-ninth year.

What I wouldn’t give now for one ounce of that excited feeling and the energy to nail one thrilling day, to bottle it up and dispense it as needed. Every time I think about tomorrow, I feel heavy. The pregnancy is like a weighted blanket, I’m never allowed to forget about the responsibility that I carry, both physically and metaphorically.

My life is not about me anymore. Whether I find it fulfilling or annoying (depending on the day) is of no consequence, and I’ve developed a healthy ambivalence towards the mundane tasks of waking up and changing clothes and brushing teeth, only to end the day putting the kids to bed with the same book, and the same nightly routine.

When a day pops up that is supposed to be “special” it suddenly feels like pressure to do. Do something, be different, be who you want, do what you want; this is the day that counts. The weighted blanket sags a little heavier over my body and my will to take a nap strengthens.

What I want and what I need have become the same huddled mass of tangible things from China that can be purchased in a breezy two-hundred dollar trip to Target on a Monday night.

Special would be the clock learning to stand still while I accomplish putting away the shoes that my kids constantly grow out of. Special would be my back pain clearing up and giving me the movement and ability to fend for myself that I had a year ago. Special would be a late night, with s’mores that won’t go straight to my thighs and wine with a smooth finish and cozy sweaters and peace and quiet.

The reality is rain, mosquitoes and the ever present shadow of motherhood that keeps me from fitting into cozy sweaters in adorable, imagined settings.

Reality is annoyance, it’s sweat on your upper lip and forgetting to wear deodorant.

It’s bad breath and farting in front of your spouse. (I don’t do that)

It’s getting comfortable with a bag of Reese’s that you’ll regret tomorrow while you surf a hundred channels for one decent thing to watch.

I think I know what I’ll be doing for my birthday. And I think thirty-one is going to be just as imperfect, busy and muddled it should be. With stretch marks and uncomfortable conversations.

kids and leaves

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