Now that I've reached the midway point of my forties, I really should stop giving birthdays so much attention. And I was all-but-ready to . . . until I woke up this morning in a hotel room with two whiny kids wedged under my armpits. Neither of them was exactly belting out the Birthday Song. More like . . .
"MOM! He kicked me."
"MOM! She looked at me."
"KNOCKITOFF!!!! Seriously, guys. It's only 6:42."
The stage whispers continued in a not-so-dull roar, until I rolled out of bed, shoved my feet in a pair of sandals, and waddled off toward the breakfast room with my little urchins so my nieces (who had been watching the kids this week) could get a few more zzzzs.
A few minutes later, I sprinted for the door to catch the opening session of the writer's conference. No sooner had I stepped into the conference ballroom than my cell rang. It was Craig -- I smiled, thinking he wanted to wish me a happy birthday.
"You'll never believe what happened to me last night," he began a complicated description of his piano lesson and the mini-consult he'd had with his teacher's husband, the doctor. I asked Craig a few questions -- all the wrong ones, apparently -- and tried to sound sympathetic. Then my phone beeped. "Honey, I hate to cut you off, but I need to take this. It might be about the kids."
It was my sister, saying she might not be able to make our sister reunion. We talked for a few minutes -- her upset, me trying to soothe. Then I went back into the conference. My friend Pat saw the storm clouds brewing on my face, and took me outside to chat. Dear Pat. She's always been such an encouragement to me, cheering me on as I try to meet a myriad of little goals. She even prayed for me when I lost my Edirol recorder two months ago, and using it as an excuse not to start my podcast. What a friend.
The great thing about true friends -- good friends, I mean -- is that they can deliver the tough messages no one else will. She encouraged me to think of ways to be supportive of Craig even when I didn't understand what he was going through -- and to understand how hard it is to be the chronically ill partner. My response was something highly mature and constructive having to do with his forgetting my birthday.
"It's your BIRTHDAY?! I didn't know that!" She gave me a big hug and said she needed to get back inside to set up for the next talk. I went to my seat and started digging around in my computer bag . . . and nearly fainted when I discovered a secret compartment that contained the three credit cards I'd recently reported as lost . . . and my recorder.
"PAAAAAT! I found it! My recorder!!!!" And like a true friend, she whooped and danced around with me. Then she sat me down and gave me a lesson on GarbagePail (or whatever that podcasting software for Mac is called).
It was my birthday present from God. HE had not forgotten that, even at 45, His kids like to be remembered. (Thanks, God!)
By the end of the day, everything had turned around. All three of my sisters turned up to celebrate the weekend with me. And I even got to see an old high school buddy who was the musical director of a local production of "Seussical." (Way to go, Rory!)
And now that the day is officially over, and the kids are both slumbering peacefully on the floor, I think I'll get a little shut-eye. Thank God birthdays only come once a year!