Today is the little boy in Haiti’s birthday. The boy who may or may not come to live with us forever (in a year or two) is now one year old.
This is a day for reflection. I have been down this road several times, this road of celebration for the children I hope to love and cherish on this earth, but sometimes never come home. I have always felt that these moments need to be marked, though, because what if it does work out this time? In that case, of course, we will want these memories to share with him.
I made an ugly cake. I didn’t mean for it to be ugly, but it just didn’t work out the way I planned (and welcome to the rest of my life!). The love behind the gesture will just have to be enough. And you know what? I think it is enough. I started to realize this cake, with the swirling blues and splatters of gold balls, kind of looks like a globe if looked at lovingly with a lazy, far away glance (or maybe this is just me…but try to go with it). This cake – with the land masses sprinkled in the wrong places and the not-so-tidy or realistic purple border – seems fitting and even unitive (and what a joke it would be if I showed you the cake decorating ideas I got off of Pinterest for this attempt!).
Yes, this cake is a cake of love. This cake is a cake of connection. With this cake, I am celebrating the life of a boy I’ve never met…and hoping he won’t be too upset if one day he has to make a big trip (across golden land masses that look very different than the ones on my cake) and becomes part of our family. There is perfection in this imperfect sign of longing and invitation. Happy birthday, little guy. We love you already.
So, on my (now) short journey to thirty, I am exploring those ego-centered questions that drive women to do crazy things. Do I try to cheat the calendar by doubling my normal workout routine? Should I buy wrinkle cream with a high concentration of retinol…or should I just get botox like Kim Kardashian? (Just kidding!) Is my career/personal life/savings where I thought it would be (agh)? At the heart of all these superficial inquiries is the real question: Have I done well enough or, possibly, have I done well enough to own my age? Women who tell their age are queens; they have nothing to hide and rule their own dynasties. Why not be proud of a full, prosperous life if you believe that is what you have created?
My whole life I’ve always been good at most things (except ball sports – I am TERRIBLE at ball sports)…but never the best at anything. Never the best used to haunt me. In my teens, it made me feel subpar and depressed. When complaining to my mom about my plight, she once told me, “…but, J, it is very hard to be well-rounded. You need to be proud of being pretty good at most things. A lot of people don’t have that gift.” Even though I am pretty sure I rolled my eyes at the time, her sweet words freed me from a life of not feeling good enough. It allowed me to learn, early on, that moderation was a worthy goal. It taught me to appreciate people’s quirks and resist putting anyone on pedestals – or cast them downward in rank – because of strengths and weaknesses. I think when we detach our age from our ego, the number stops scaring us. Further, if we detach our ego from whatever is haunting us, our ghost loses its power.
So, I will not turn my body into a slave for my ego. I will embrace wrinkles and TRY REALLY HARD to embrace the cellulite found on my rear and my thighs. After all, my face is just starting to resemble one that has earned some stripes via laugh and furrowed-brow lines, and I can still do a mean, white-girl bootie shake. I mean, really, what else is there for which to aspire?
As I approach thirty, I think of all the things I’ve done with my life and those still to come. I’ve fallen in love and have gotten my heart smashed into little pieces. I’ve fallen in love again and married the chips to my salsa, the wind to my kite. I’ve moved halfway across the world and then back home again. I’ve moved across the country – which was unsurprisingly fun – and then I moved across the same state, which I found to be surprisingly much less fun and much more of a culture shock than moving across the country.
I’ve defended not having kids seven years into my marriage. I’ve defended working moms. I’ve defended stay-at-home moms. I’ve cried from the relief of not being pregnant. I’ve tried to get pregnant. I’ve cried because I wasn’t pregnant. I’ve cried in front of those I swore I’d never cry in front of: employers, coaches, hell…a massage therapist (yes, during a massage…aren’t I a treat). Would you believe I actually don’t have a reputation of a crier or someone whom falls apart at a pin’s drop?
Well, the countdown is officially ON. I have less than one month until my 30th birthday. (!) So, of course there are some petty, superficial thoughts bursting through my brain as the crossover approaches. There are also some deep “this will take opening a bottle of wine with my best friend” thoughts. I’ll go from a celebrated, “the world is your oyster” twenty-something to a what-do-you-have-to-show-for-your-life-you-are-not-so-young-anymore thirty-something.
As I’ve said before, I believe in commencement. Even though it would be easy to say this birthday is “just another day” and glide, I prefer to mark the occasion – contemplating it to the finite point where my husband stops listening – and celebrate the tidbits & tribulations, triumphs & tales, of this unique life, my journey on uncharted (preferably seafoam green) waters.