So another birthday has come and passed, and just like the others before, I welcome it. I suppose it’s unconventional that I’ve become increasingly proud of my years since the very time when people, notably women, begin rebuking them- 30. The truth is, I wouldn’t go back for the world.
I can speculate that this support for my age comes with the experience and pride in what I’ve accomplished in those years, notably through the joyous life I’ve made with my child, the gratification I have gotten through my work, all the times I’ve been forced to learn grace and dignity, even against a wall of hardship. It’s a humbling and revealing day when you look in the mirror and see yourself truly for the first time- but a fine installment of adulation is replaced in that reflection the moment you can turn those shortcomings toward others in a reciprocal form of tolerance and empathy. And for all my error and the miscalculations passed, I can say with conviction in the very least, I do have that.
For these reasons, all of which occurred before 30 and continue in my daily life today, I’m proud of my age and the life I lead.
Although it certainly isn’t for the weak.
My days start early and end late in a storm of peeling fruits, packing lunches, cleaning up spills, changing diapers, sweeping the floor, endless piles of laundry, skinned knees, bath times, washing dishes, nap-time tantrums, cleaning ears, brushing teeth, keeping any and all things sharp/dangerous/valuable/electronic out of reach, and of course the battle that is clipping nails. And being late to my full-time job and pretty much anywhere else as a result of all the above.
But not today.
This weekend, for my birthday, we traveled to Budapest, Hungary. During the day we played the proper tourists, eating duck and cabbage in outside cafes, meandering under towering cathedrals and through narrow streets, touring Budapest Castle, posing in front of the Basilica and purchasing hand-painted eggs and small wooden trinkets. At night we strolled through the romantically-lit city center, dined in outside cafes warmed by fireplaces, admired the ferris wheel in the square and enjoyed the first night of the Christmas markets.
The clock struck 7 in the midst of the crowded square and Jack’s eyes weren’t as wide as they were at the beginning of our excursion. His head began to bob and finally rested against against his stroller amidst the fried dough and neatly-piled stands of bonbons. I tucked his teddy bear blanket tightly over his hands to protect them from the chilly night breeze- and to protect mine, a hot glass of mulled wine. We weathered the thin, brisk, Central European air for a stroll along the riverfront with friends. A perfect night, ending an even more perfect day.
It’s true that the diapers, feedings, and tantrums don’t take vacation when we do, but it was nonetheless a weekend of making memories and commemorating my own day of birth.
And although I know he’ll never remember these times, they’ll always be with me. For all the photos I took today, what will remain precious in my reminiscences is his face- peaceful and warm underneath the Chain Bridge, twinkling against light from the Danube River. A constant reminder of what a truly blessed life I lead.
Happy Birthday to me.