Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Happy BirTday

The arrival of my 29th year was ushered in with:

hugs from those I love,
happy facebook wishes, 
text messages from friends I need to see more of, 
birthday cards, 
food that tastes really good, 
 and giant, "Happy BirTday" signs.

My thoughtful husband wanted to make sure that I'd be feeling both lucky and loved the morning of my birthday. With the kids help, he went to work on making me that festive sign. Our astute six year old would be the one to point out that the allusive letter "h" was missing. She reacted as if she'd missed a word on a spelling test (something that hasn't happened in her real life yet).

"Uh. You guys! It doesn't even say, 'birthday!'" Andrew and I are still giggling about it.

Accompanying the happy birthday song and chocolate cakes were candles that Henry blew out on our behalf. Even though he was the one assigned to huff and puff and blow all those candles out, I made sure to make a wish. I sincerely love that my happy birthday songs are shared with him.

 Make A Wish! 

When you're a Flegal, birthday cake candles don't always make the cut. We like to celebrate birthdays bonfire style. It makes the wish that much more powerful! Or maybe the real truth is, if you're a Flegal, you embrace any reason to build a bonfire, even if it means frightening the neighbors! That dead Christmas tree lit up (pun intended) SO fast. It was both alarming and exciting. Thankfully, the blaze went out without the assistance of a fire department.

Celebrating your birthday on a weekend is great when you're a Mom. You have the help and special attention of your spouse and get to spend time with both sides of your family. Bubba and Nanna Teresa made our Saturday so special when they invited us all (with the exception of Miss Lottie who is too young) to see the production of, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" at Hale Center Theater.

The quality of Saturday's show was top notch. Eliza had a hard time sitting still, like always. Even with her wiggles, I could tell she was highly entertained. Henry quietly took it all in. In typical Henry fashion, he'd whisper his exclaims,

 "That is so awesome!" whenever that magical car began to fly and/or save the day.  They both waited in line to meet the cast at the end of the show. Henry bravely told them he recently turned five but was too shy to jump in for a picture. 
Cute Grandma and thoughtful Aunt Katie (and family!) joined us for lunch. It was delicious. Spending time visiting outside in the sunshine relaxed us all. Giving myself a present, I found a place to lay down for a nap of my own. Lottie was back with us by then and it would be rude if I didn't tell my Mom 'Thank You' again for watching her while we were at the play. Lucky Lottie got some great one on one time with her Nana Marie. Speaking of Nana, she had us over for dinner on Sunday. It was another birthday highlight.

Hold the phone. "What's that Andrew?"

Please friends, forgive me for neglecting to point out how 'awesome' Andrew's handlebar mustache looks! The arrival of Spring like weather motivated him to bid farewell to his beard. However, according to Andrew, having that beard disappear in stages is a lot more exciting than shaving it all off at once. It's kind of scary, but Andrew LOVED his handlebar mustache. It's his face. I try to 'support' his mood but will give my opinion when asked. However, regarding that mustache, I was not an enthusiastic supporter.

Henry, on the other hand, definitely was!! I made a joke on facebook (this is now Andrew's profile picture) that this is how we do a paternity test at our house. Look at those two! It's heartwarming to see their inner-redneck hearts shine! I wonder if you can get John Deere hats in a 0-3 month size. What do you think?

Both boys were pretty sad when Mom said they had to "shave" off their mustaches before Church on Sunday. Surprisingly, Andrew listened! I suspect the reason was that the request came from a birthday girl.

Sunday morning, I slept in, showered and ate green french toast (a triple win).
I look like a large white marshmallow, but three cheers for me because this may be the first sans make-up photo I've ever posted on my blog. I left my crew a bit early to go meet with the Bishop and my fellow Relief Society presidency sisters. When word spread it was my birthday, they asked the magic question.

"How old are you?"

"29." In unison they begin to laugh. I feel confused. Should this embarrass me? It appears that they're waiting for me to say something else. Not knowing what I'm missing, I stay quiet. A look of realization passes the Bishop's face.

"Oh!" he finally says. "You really are turning 29!"

It would seem this is the age that others perpetually repeat which is why they thought I was making a joke. I'll tell you what. Having other friends react similarly, as if I was trying to deceive them, actually did make me laugh. 

It's official. I'm 29. One more year and I say 'goodbye' to my twenties. As awkward, my specialty, as it would be to write myself a letter...I'll decline the temptation. I do, however, feel reflective (code for: stop reading now) and have a few thoughts to share as I think about my 20's so far. 

Soon after turning 20, I married my best friend; an experience that has been both beautiful, fun and challenging. Together we've welcomed three, soon to be four (!!!!), precious children to our family. The experience of learning to be a Mother while remembering to be a good wife at the same time is probably what will forever define my 20's for me. Finding that balance while spreading our wings and flying out of Utah for a serious slice of time is likewise important to note.

Many people are of the opinion that your 20's is a time to 'find yourself' and enjoy life. I absolutely admire those whose paths have taken them on world wide adventures and to those who have achieved academic and career related successes (I'm looking at you, Andrew). For this housewife, I can honestly say that for me the path of parenthood, that began at the age of 22, was absolutely the right thing. I am at peace with the life choices we've made up until now. More importantly, I feel a crazy measure of gratitude for it all.

And while my life lacks the personal time to really reflect and ponder the way I'd like, I think that being a Mom has facilitated the effort of 'finding myself' or whatever kids these days are calling it. I've learned that I can demand energy when I'm being pulled out of bed to attend to the needs of a child. Motherhood has helped me to find that extra grain of patience when I feel smothered by the rage of an upset child. It's taught me humility as I've learned to ask my kids to please forgive me when that grain of patience expired too soon. It's disciplining myself to stop what it is I'm doing so that I can really listen and communicate with one of my kids, even if that means that my plan to lose myself in that book has been foiled. It's teaching me that the standard of being a "good" Mom isn't set by the opinions of others or measured by the successful achievements born of pinterest. It's between me, the man I share this responsibility with and a loving Father in Heaven who most definitely will put me in my place when I'm not doing enough. I've learned that He will strengthen me when I remember to ask for His support and that His love for Eliza, Henry and Lottie exceeds my own.

I could be way off base with that theory. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I am. I think that journey of knowing who I really am comes from time spent on isolated beaches somewhere in the tropics. Let's make sure, honey, that we make time for that. :)   Chatting with a friend the other day, I joked that I'll worry about 'finding myself later...' after I've switched the laundry through, helped my kids with their homework and taken another piece of Lottie's potty reward treats for myself, etc.

In a matter of weeks, I'll be falling back into that physically exhausting, emotionally charged, out of this world love enveloping mist that accompanies the birth of a child. His safe arrival, God willing, will be a pinnacle point of my twenties. The admonition to, "savor this" is one my heart feels often - and surprisingly enough, I'm not automatically associating the word, 'savor' with food. :) 

The "look" of my twenties...
Baby bumps mingled with sweat pants...

and a couch full of kids... Lottie is here to thankfully remind parents everywhere that the appearance of total cooperation is false.
My twenties were traversed with a handsome, steady partner. 
And kids who love each other. Scenes like this are the reason we keep making babies. I hope they love each other always. But don't tell them I said that. We're supposed to keep those birthday wishes quiet, right?!


Catherine said...

Happy, Happy BirTday indeed! The only thing I miss about not being on fb anymore is the birthday reminders. Sorry I missed your special day, Ali. It sounds like the whole weekend was fabulous. :) I, too, got laughs from my fam and friends when I turned 29. "No way, how old are you really?" haha too funny.

Liz Green said...

Enjoy the last days of your twenty years. After that, you start to forget your age. At least I have.
You are an amazing mother. How is potty training going? Wish we could have been there for the Flegal Bonfire! :)
Reading your blog does make me get a little emotional that we are so far from family.

BnK said...

I forgot my age like ten years ago. Happy Birthday, again. Loved the post.