Rambling and long birthday musings. My mom used to joke that about every five years, she did something highly dramatic, with apparently little planning or foresight. Things that hindsight generally suggested that there were perhaps other, less drastic options, but in the moment, the only way to go was BIG. We used to laugh about it. By about 50, the pattern seemed to have subsided; I think maybe she had settled firmly into a happy life as a devoted grandmother by that point. We had a number of theories why the rule of five only seemed to last through 45, but it didn’t really matter much, in the end.
I’ve been thinking about this today as I turned 45. I share a lot of similarities with my mom, but the rule of fives is not one of them. My life has lacked the dramatics twists and turns – and I’m grateful for that. I was not built for that kind of ride. I like steady state. One time Alice told me, “Mommy, you are so calm. Even your clothes are calm.” This is how I like it. I mark the beautiful, the tragic and the absurd in each day – and each day seems to have plenty of each. I don’t expect 45 to be much different in that respect. As my grandfather once said to me, “I’m just grateful I got up on the right side of the dirt today.” So here is what 45 looks like to me today:
45 is driving two car loads of people over an hour to a lake, paying for the day pass, standing in the cold drizzle for 15 minutes before deciding to drive back into town. 45 thinks that eating pizza and calling that the outing for the day is just fine. 45 no longer tries to “find the fun” in being cold and wet. 45 enjoys a rainy afternoon in the vacation rental house because these trashy vacation novels will not read themselves, people. 45 sees all the blood pooled beneath the nine year old’s foot and quickly says: yes, emergency room. 45 drives while the (also 45) husband holds the screaming nine year old in the backseat, a team working in tandem to calm and soothe without making promises that cannot be kept. 45 knows we hit the jackpot in a 30 minute in and out ER visit that included only glue and saline and tape. 45 was never officially scared, but it still takes a bit out of 45 to see that much blood come from a child.
45 serves truly terrible grocery store birthday cake because whatever, cake is for kids. 45 eats a piece anyway. 45 guilts all the over-sugared children to watch “Escape to Witch Mountain” selling it as “the Harry Potter of the 70s” and allows the comments and jokes about Tony and Tia’s very strange yet still captivating story, because, yes, children, the 70s really were that weird. 45 kisses and hugs and cajoles and threatens the children to bed because all is fair in love and bedtime. 45 stays up late doing dishes because waking up to a clean kitchen is better than taking a birthday pass on chores. 45 is grateful for sleeping children, health, microwave nachos when you really need them, super glue, sitting next to my sister watching the same movie we watched together over thirty years ago, rain, rental houses in the woods, wild lavender and daisy chains scattered around the house, and comfy elastic waist pajamas that get put on earlier and earlier in the day each year that passes. At this rate, by 50, I’ll have them on by 10 am.
It’s been a very hard week in the world and that too is part of 45. Heartbreak and helplessness but determination and will that surely, we can do better. 45 has seen the change that is possible when enough people say: ENOUGH. Enough.
And now, it’s 12:06 which means it is no longer my birthday, so the end. 45 really should not stay up this late but what the hell, the kitchen is cleaned and the coffee is prepped, and once in a blue moon, 45 rebels and drinks tea and stays up past her bedtime. It’s good to be 45.