For many years on this blog, I’ve written letters to my kids on their birthdays. They are full of love and advice and wishes for their future. This year, I decided I needed a letter on my birthday. My mom’s been gone for nearly 15 years. She was never much for advice, but damn could she write a letter. So, this year. I’m going to write myself one, in the spirit of a loving and advice giving mom.
Another trip around the sun for you. It’s easy, in these midlife years, with grown up responsibilities and a birthday that falls on a Monday to just let it go by. You’ve been good at that lately, letting your stuff go.
But this year, maybe try to celebrate, even just a little. After all, you’ve gotten through 45 years of heartache and triumph. At least stop to acknowledge that on one day.
You spend your days urging women to be more kind to themselves. Then you spend your nights forbidding your children from speaking ill of themselves.
You urge both groups to reframe mistakes into learning opportunities. You preach practicing patience with oneself.
And yet, you rarely extend this same kindness to you. So, whatdaya say? Maybe give it a try.
Resilience is a strength not to be ignored. You’ve survived great loss, a variety of hurts, and many small disappointments. You’ve course-corrected and rebuilt. You’ve made Reinvention a trademark. And all the while (most of the time) you’ve stayed kind and hopeful and open to loving and being loved.
You’re never afraid to admit being wrong, or not knowing something. Learning is built into your very being. If there are any shortcomings here it is that you forget to believe that you do know some things and that it’s ok to share them. Humility is wonderful. Self-defeat through ignoring your strengths is not.
When you get quiet and allow the thoughts to come, you know, deep down, that your mom and dad would be proud. You spent most of your young life trying to impress one ghost. Then at thirty, you concentrated on impressing two.
Guess what? At 45, you realize that simply with your tenacity, open mind, and fierce heart, you would have made them both proud. All the schooling and professional work is just icing on the cake.
You’re still trying to master the physical part of being well and healthy and kind to your body. But here is where the practice of patience comes in. You do your best. And at the end of the day, your soul is well and beautiful, even if it resides in a plus-sized body. Be patient with yourself as you continue to learn that.
And oh, girl, how lucky you are to have amassed such a treasured collection of family and friends.
Every single day you get to come home to four (plus two furry) of the most loving, beautiful souls on the planet. There is important conversation, and warmth and laughter inside your four (newly yellow) walls all the time and it is glorious.
Outside of your sunny yellow house, you’ve built an unparalleled scaffolding of friends, family and friends who are like family from each stage of your life. You’ve been hashtag blessed since before #blessed was even a thing.
It seems my friend, you’ve done alright for yourself. My only advice to you for the next 45 years is to own that. You’ve always owned the pain and struggle. Now, own the strength. Own the triumph. Own the joy.
It’s not all luck. It’s a lot parts you.
Happy Birthday, lady. Here’s to many more.
With all my Love,
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.