The weekend came and went and replaced my two year old with a three year old.
We celebrated the day before his actual birthday. A beach day with family. It was fun, it was easy, it was perfect. Chaucer splashed in the ocean with his daddy and Papa, he rolled in the sand, he squeeled at the seagulls.
I made him the blue cake he wanted, and he got shy when it was time to blow out the candles.
Presents were opened.
Everybody left and it was the perfect day.
Night fell, morning came and I greeted the real birthday at hand.
I grew quiet.
A three-year old flood of memories and emotions. Messy, wonderful life measured and encapsulated by the span of my son’s life.
His birth, the catalyst. Not with a whimper, but a bang.
I was a battle-scarred warrior when I returned home with a small bundle in arms. Naively, I thought the battle done. Days later we encountered grief when my husband’s grandma passed away unexpectedly.
Grief and grad school.
The first week of grad school. The first month of grad school. The first year of grad school.
Without so much as a knock on the door, postpartum depression vanquished my smiles in one fell blow. And when I resurfaced, I found my smiles. Hard life, but joy available.
Until one day when I awoke to rheumatoid arthritis. Pain, fear, pain, dread, pain, despair.
The chapter involving the diagnoses, the surgeries, and the recovery was brutally messy. And yet, so very beautiful. I found community with the people beside me. I found out that neighbors really do bring over fresh cookies and offer to babysit your kids.I found that life can be incredibly full in times that seem empty of hope.
I fought addiction. A worse battle than natural labor. I conquered that addiction with divine strength.
We said goodbye to the plot-shifting chapter. The catalyst of our new, gritty, wonderful life.
We started again. The first week of grad school. The first month of grad school. The first year of grad school…Again.
And so it was that on his actual birthday I found myself staring straight into the ravine that separates our old life with new. Tears clench my throat and the terrible knowledge of a new chapter paralyzes me. Take me backwards. Take my baby backwards.
Onward and upward.
When I was a child, birthdays marked the future. The new year of me. But now that’s I am a mom, birthdays are bittersweet.
We look through the mirror and see our life before, and no matter how sweet the future, we’ll want to go backwards.