His birthday took me backward

By | September 17, 2013

birthday pin

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.

Chaucer, delighted.

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.

But no.

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.

sparkly eyes


13 thoughts on “His birthday took me backward

  1. Aleta

    Such a beautiful sweet face. You have gone through, survived, so much and should feel that looking back is where the painful part belongs, in the past. And your future is with that bright, beautiful smiling bundle of joy that will grow each year and love even more each year. Hugs

  2. Kelly @ IdealistMom.com

    Your post made me get a little weepy. This is such a paradox of parenting. To be taxed with preparing our little ones to grow up and move on, while at the same time wanting to slow time and soak it all up. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. hillary

      I think it’s something that only parents can understand. It’s so weird. I’m taking it as my cue to have another one ????

  3. JD @ Honest Mom

    I, too, find myself looking backwards – definitely more with my youngest than with my older daughter. New chapters are good, though – milestones are good. My baby is going to be FIVE and I know it’s going to be a little hard. But she’s growing so well. Onward and upward – just maybe wth a little reluctance. ????

  4. Chris Carter

    Lovely. I love how you placed your words so perfectly- describing each season and the enduring challenges and struggles within the joy and life to be grabbed with a stronghold of faith. What a lifetime you have lived in three years, my friend.

  5. Kylie

    I never realized that birthdays were a milestone for parents until I became one. Beautiful post.

    1. hillary

      Yep. I feel like I should be handing my mom birthday cards on my birthday.


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