Today is my birthday.
Happy dance with me.
I am squinting hard to see your moves.
Oh, you are looking good!
Last year was all about reaching the big 5-0.
It seems after the age of 25, birthday milestones are marked by
increments of 5.
After the ages that end in zeroes or fives, comes a settled resting place,
or at least it should.
So I am embracing the age of 51 because now I get to sink into my 50’s.
Often I don’t feel my age, except on the days when my joints
make noises when I walk.
I feel the way 51 should feel for me, that is the best explanation.
For the last several years, we have taken a day trip to somewhere along the
Oregon coast during the last week or so of August.
To celebrate my birthday, to attempt to make summer last as long as possible
and because my people know my heart belongs to the ocean.
On Saturday, we gathered all the essential gear, grabbed a friend for Caleb
and headed south.
Of course it wasn’t an original destination and we waddled across the sand to
stake out our territory in as much solitude as possible.
The boys placed their chairs several feet in front of Carl and mine :)
They ran with shovels towards the wet sand to dig the biggest hole EVER.
Carl and I sat and breathed.
I surveyed the other sand dwellers and one family caught my eye.
A family of four settled to our left, weighted down by Trader Joe
bags, sand pails and two very excited little girls.
The couple attempted to lay a couple of blankets which proved
to be quite a task as the wind began to gain strength.
Once they had wrestled the blankets to the sand, the dad
jogged towards the shoreline to begin the first of many trips
filling buckets with water for castle building.
I on the other hand, strolled towards the shore, snapped
a few photos of the sand excavators and reminded them
to alert us before they ventured into the water.
They assured me they would give us ample warning
and Caleb proceeded to share a story explaining the reason
you never turn your back on the ocean.
Back at our chairs, Carl was sinking deeper into his chair
and I happily joined him without hesitation.
I glanced over to the family again, the dad was entertaining
the little girls and the mom was sitting with a towel over her
shoulders with her back to the ocean, reading a book.
Perhaps half an hour later, this was the scene:
Oh sweet mama.
I feel your fatigue deep in my bones, in my soul.
I have known the need to turn my back on majesty in favor of rest.
Even now being in this mothering game for half of my life, I still have ever-present
exhaustion, but it’s not the same as when your children are very young.
I applaud your husband for giving you room to rest without requirement and his delight
in playing with his daughters.
Sweet mama, when you all gathered up your belongings to leave (at just the
right time, before a sand storm took residence), as you passed me, we gave
each other a gentle smile as fellow travelers do.
It was all the more powerful as you went on your way because I realized
you spoke in a foreign tongue which I didn’t recognize.
Mothering has no language barrier.
So if we could share a few moments from one mama a bit farther down the road,
this is what I would share, my gift to you, one I should have opened more often.
- Hang on.
Hang on to who you are in this season of high needs and demands.
Hang on to the knowledge that today is not forever.
- Say yes.
Yes to naps.
Yes to help.
Yes to taking time for yourself even if it a few moments horizontal
or reading a book because little moments amass but taking zero time for
yourself always calculates to zero.
Yes to good enough over perfection.
Yes to lived-in messy over untouchable clean.
Yes to doing a few things well and letting go of the other things.
- Say no.
No to being supermom or a martyr.
No to finding your worth by attempting to do everything.
No to obligation over calling.
No to comparing yourself with other moms.
No to comparing your children with other children,
the scales will never balance because children are
not mass-produced but should be greatly loved.
Remember to keep life simple.
Remember you are doing a wonderful job
and are a great mom. You are, even when
you lose your temper.
Remember to say thank you to your husband.
Remember if you are walking this road without a mate,
ask and accept all that others want to offer.
Remember that asking for help is not weakness,
Remember how well you feed your children,
feed yourself well too.
Remember what brings you joy beyond your family
and if necessary, for now, keep it tucked away until you can
fully pursue it.
Remember how everyone says how fast the life of child
flies by? Well, it is true.
Remember to be fully devoted to this time when your
children are the ages they are now.
Remember not to worry about your child at an age beyond
where they reside (I’m still working on that :) )
Remember you are equipped to be their mama today
and you will be equally armed when you arrive at the later years.
Remember to smile.
Remember to laugh.
Remember to play.
Remember, we moms who are walking ahead of you,
we think you are a wonder.
So hang on, sweet mama.
P.S. I have written so much lately about losing my rhythm in this season. I had lamented not planting my row of sunflowers along the fence. Time kept slipping past me to do such a simple task. But one day in July I believe, I decided to toss a few seeds figuring that by October perhaps a bloom or two would visit. I scattered mostly Mexican Sunflowers because I developed quite a crush on them last summer but the photo above was what greeted me on Sunday. August didn’t leave without a bloom erupting. God has been teaching me how small offerings left in the hands of the Maker can bring forth a different harvest than envisioned. I have missed the long row of towering sunflowers all summer but I am deeply entranced by this solitary flower bringing delight to a steadfast bee.