Last week, our daughter turned six and the triplets turned four. Needless to say, it was quite a week! My quest to create the “perfect” birthday had me wrapping gifts and baking cupcakes late into the night; my desire to create happy memories had me whipped into a frenzy. I was afraid I hadn’t gotten enough gifts, that I hadn’t gotten the “right” gifts. I was afraid of those bright eager eyes displaying even a hint of disappointment on their birthdays. And you know what? I had nothing at all to be afraid of. Except, perhaps, for the fact that they are all growing up way too fast. It sounds so trite but if I had a tip to share this Tuesday, it would be to live in the moment, to cherish the moment because the moments — and years — pass quickly. If I were to share another nugget of supposed wisdom, it would be a repeat of a tip of a Tuesday past — write things down. Write down the sweet, silly things they say. They will make you laugh and make you realize just how “perfect” the small, everyday moments are. In that spirit, I hope you’ll read the post I wrote for the Huffington Post last week… and I hope it gives you a few chuckles and inspires you to capture the wonder of it all.
It’s hard to believe it’s already October. Summer is over, school is in full swing and the busiest month of the year is upon us. Why is October the busiest month of the year? Well, four of our five children were born in October. And it’s our anniversary. And then, just when you think it’s over, there’s Halloween! All of these things require thoughtfulness and planning above and beyond the already challenging task of juggling an active family of seven and a full-time job.
Oh, and just to spice things up a bit, this October, we’re MOVING… which means that in addition to everything else, there is packing and cleaning and phone calls and planning to add to my daily routine. Lest I should forget, there is also a 3-day conference in Chicago that will take me away from that routine just two days before our move. Are you stressed out yet? I sure am!
As I look at the calendar, I am reminded that our triplets turn four on Wednesday (tomorrow!) and our 10th Anniversary is on Friday. The triplets are in pretty good shape; there is no party planned (yet!) but there are gifts to be wrapped and a cake to be baked. My husband, on the other hand, is not so lucky; there is a card to be written but thus far, no gifts to be had. Which leads me to the point.
As I look at the calendar, I am completely overwhelmed. Completely and utterly overwhelmed. How will I get it all done?! There aren’t enough hours in the day! So, to avoid a total mental meltdown (my family and friends might say that a partial meltdown is already progress), I have decided to take it just one day at a time and so far, it’s working pretty well. Take a look at last weekend as an example…
Our daughter turned six on Saturday so, we made cupcakes Friday night and Saturday truly was “all about her” – she had her first big party, complete with dancing and goodie bags. She had her first sleepover, complete with popcorn and a movie. And we went to bed that night delighted that our only little lady had “the best birthday ever.”
On Sunday, we were up at the crack of dawn, lugging out our wares for our neighborhood’s multi-family tag sale. We set up toys, books, housewares and the relics of our baby days on the curb, displaying it just so to maximize the appeal for would-be buyers. Then the rain started. So we lugged it all on the porch. Then the hours passed. And no one came. So finally, we loaded our gently used items and memorabilia into the minivan… and had a big glass of wine.
The moral of the story? Take it one day at a time. If you’d asked me last Friday how I was going to bake cupcakes, wrap gifts, throw a birthday party, have a slumber party and organize a yard sale over the weekend, I would have told you that I had no clue, that it was too overwhelming to even consider! But now it’s Tuesday and despite the rain, our missions were accomplished and we somehow pulled it all off. One day at a time. That’s really the only way.
So, when I look at the month of October on the calendar, there is no denying that it is daunting. But, we made it through the first nine days and will surely survive the next 22 – birthdays, anniversary, work, move and all! Before I know it, it will be November. Before I know it, my three year olds will be four, my husband and I will have celebrated a decade together and our family will be in a new house. And then I’ll be wondering how to juggle unpacking and settling us in, planning our oldest son’s 8th birthday and preparing for the holidays. When I start to feel overwhelmed (that’s assuming I ever stop!), I think I’ll reread this and remind myself: one day at a time. Everything is possible if you take it just one day at a time. And have that occasional glass of wine!
Here is the post I wrote on the eve of my 41st birthday. An evening when I was feeling a bit down and out. Today, the day after, the day I am 41+, I am feeling just fine. Why? Because of my amazing family and friends and the keen realization that whatever lies ahead, they will be there. To understand my trepidation about what lies ahead, read on…
Tomorrow I will be 41. It feels so anticlimactic as compared to 40. When I turned 40, I anticipated an “event.” And indeed, I got one. First there was a fancy dinner in the city – a great date that included a moonlit walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. And then, a week later, just as I thought the notion of being surprised had passed me by, there was a party in the park, complete with our kids, family, friends and lots of cake and balloons.
I was pleased as punch and felt more like a 40 year old child than a middle aged adult. I still do. In fact, my own husband remarked just the other day that I was behaving like a child. And not in a good way.
I get cranky when I get tired. I get really cranky when I get hungry. I get pissy when I don’t get my own way. Which is often, as it is for all parents. The needs of five kids seven and under simply must come first.
Even so, I still like birthday cake and presents. And parties. I also like puppies and kittens and trips to the zoo. And the aquarium. Oh how I love a good aquarium! I like sprinkles on ice cream and milk with cookies. Sunshine makes me happy although, despite many a bad burn, I still hate to put on sunblock.
My childlike tendencies go on and on. I believe people are good. A small part of me still believes in Santa Claus. I love Christmas, just like I love birthdays. But somehow, this birthday is different.
It’s not just my birthday. It is my oldest son’s first day of third grade and the day our only daughter will become a first grader. It is a monumental day in their lives. And that makes the fact that I am turning yet another year older seem pretty insignificant. Forty one. Big whoop.
As the date of my birth gets closer by the minute, it occurs to me that I am no longer that 40 year-old child. I have great angst about the choices and changes that loom ahead. As the kids start a new year in school, we are faced with momentous, life-changing decisions. Do we sell our charming “my first house” or stay put a few more years? Do we move to a new neighborhood in pursuit of more space to stretch out or stay put because it is comfortable and easy and, well, practically perfect in every way? What about childcare? Our triplets are starting pre-school and their needs are changing. But what to do about it? Where is the guidebook? And what if all this change isn’t for the better?!
These are the questions that keep me up at night on the eve of my birthday. Before a new day dawns. A day of new beginnings. A day filled with the promise of a new school year and freshly sharpened pencils. A day filled with questions. Big questions. And worries. Big worries. And fear. Fear of the changes ahead and the decisions we have to make. A day that I still hope will bring birthday cake. And, with a bit of luck, wishes that will come true. A day that is my birthday. But is certainly not all about me. A day that I think I am last ready to admit I am an adult. A 41 year old adult. Hopefully, in a good way.