I’m stuck on birthdays. My daughter just had her Sweet Sixteen. Wasn’t it yesterday we brought her home and I slept on a pallet in her room, afraid the monitor wouldn’t work, that I wouldn’t hear her if she needed me? Heck, wasn’t it just yesterday that I had my own 16th birthday?
My memory is strong and serves me, sometimes, too well. I don’t live in the past, but I do cherish it. My daughter’s milestone birthday called up memories of all my Mama did to make that day special for me and I think I reacted much in the same way my own daughter did. I enjoyed the day in the company of friends and family, but did not recognize all the planning and work that went into the preparations for my special day. I know now that my Mama was exhausted even though it was a simple affair. I asked for dinner in our dining room with three of my friends and my family. My Mama cleaned all day, cooked a meal that a five star restaurant would be in awe of, and then served all with the knowledge that it was a job well done.
As good as my memory is I can’t recall if I ever really thanked my parents. It’s what I call an “Aha” moment. Everything is a cycle. The crazy circle of life. When my teen rolls her eyes at me, I can see myself stomping up the stairs to my room and slamming the bedroom door. The apple doesn’t fall far from the Mama who stomped before. The comfort is in knowing that realization eventually hits home. One day, you look at your parents and think “Holy gratitude Batman! They love me; they really, really love me.” And so it goes, because I am able to look back and whisper a prayer of gratitude that my parents did so much for me, even when the angst of teen years, the indestructible not me attitude, and the heavy sighs of discontent must have frustrated them to no end.
My daughter had her day, full of band friends eating pizza, cutting up and ending the afternoon with a paint ball party. When they sang Happy Birthday to her, it sounded like a choir. That same evening we had dinner with family, and I reveled in how incredibly blessed I am to have this woman-child as my daughter.
I’m one of a billion parents on the planet going through the same thing. I carry with me the lessons of someone who gave before. I hope I’m around long enough to see my daughter’s eyes widen with new recognition that this was all done before, for her. Most of all, I hope she realizes that all the eye-rolling, sighing, and stomping, is worth every moment because, ya know, I really, really love her.