Upon arrival to school Thursday morning, one of my students shouted out, “Happy Pregnant Birthday!!!” She then went on to tell me how excited I must be celebrating my birthday and being pregnant. Her face was beaming and I wondered whether it was possible she was more excited than I was. The day passed as normal with a card and handmade bouquet of flowers (made from plastic drinking straws and paper) presented to me by two of my other students. We all celebrated with the crunchy chocolate chip cookies I made. I had a reflective ride home on the train, inspired by the desire to block out the teenagers sitting near me with their music blaring from their mobile phones. As I turned up the volume on my own music, only dancing into my own ears, I put pen to paper and reflected on –what else?–my birthday.
I’m happy. Happy to be where I am in life. I have achieved all of my goals up until now, only to make new ones for the present and future. I am exactly where I want to be in life, so turning another year older is a pretty amazing thing. It’s amazing because I can look back on my life so far and nod in accomplishment and I can look toward my future and see more beautiful times. [Insert disclaimer here: Of course, life is not without challenges and mountains to climb. Of course, everyday is not a piece of cake and sometimes I collapse with exhaustion and feel sad for no reason; after all I am pregnant and those hormones can put me all over the place. ] But I feel really good about turning 31, and today, I feel happy. Birthdays are generally a time of inner reflection for me and I think for most of us. Yes, they are accompanied by loved ones sending wishes from afar and celebrating me, but I think it’s really about where I am with myself in life.
Last year was a ‘milestone’ birthday. I really struggled with the idea that I needed to plan this huge celebration because I. Was. Turning. Thirty. Once I realised it wasn’t about the number of years or the age, it didn’t matter. I had a casual gathering of friends at the local brewery. And it was fun. But that wasn’t what my birthday was about. I really began to become reflective about what my birthday meant to me, expecially last year because I struggled with being so far from some of the people in my life that I wanted to celebrate with. I then realised it was more than just a celebration and as I mentioned before, it was a review of life so far. Somewhat like the feelings one has on New Year’s Eve, getting ready for the next year and looking back on the previous one. Except on my birthday, it was just me, which encouraged me to look within myself.
Now, being pregnant, my thoughts travel to a whole new depth that I never imagined. I think about what my birthday is like for my mom. After all, she birthed me. I’m beginning to understand what birthday means from a different perspective as I await the birth of our own little one. I imagine it will be something I remember vividly every year of our child’s life and celebrate it with enthusiasm and love.
This birthday, my pregnant birthday, I have felt more content than I imagined possible. And I did receive cards and emails and notes from family and friends all over the world. My great-grandma, in her mid-nineties, still sends me a birthday card every year. I think that is pretty amazing, after all, she has dozens of grandkids, great-grandkids and even great-great grandkids. I finally received the package sent by Bridget and Ethan with some extras from my mom; lots of little treats for me, ali and baby Sharp. Friends emailed messages throughout the week. A couple of co-workers took me out for ‘tea and cake’. Ali brought me dinner from my favourite Thai veg place with all my favourite dishes, as well as pastries from Paul’s Patisserie. We’re going to see ‘The Homecoming,’ a play by Harold Pinter, in a couple weeks as well.
Like I mentioned before. Life is good. And this is what I celebrate. All the blessings. Big and small.