Today is Mollie's birthday, and that got me to thinking about how a mother's birthday differs from a regular woman's birthday.
When you're a child yourself, the world revolves around you, as is only right and proper. You wake up in the morning expecting the heavens to open and pour birthday blessings down on you; for 24 hours, you're the center of the universe. There's a part of you that wouldn't be shocked if your birthday party included the entire Barnum and Bailey circus – you don't expect it, but it wouldn't surprise you, either. That sort of thing is just part of the Birthday Magic: Infinite possibility.
When you have a child you discover the true meaning of a Birth Day, and your own shifts somehow. Oh, there's still that feeling of hope for the circus – I doubt that ever goes away completely – but now the focus of the celebration has shifted from how many years you've had to how many years you have left.
One of the most surprising changes in my life after my kids came along was learning how fantastic kid-gifts are. We have never gone in for that whole “I'll pick out a present for the kid to give to you” sham; we've encouraged the kids from the very beginning to choose their own gifts. The great thing about this is that you get a present that a kid thinks is cool, not some boring old adult thing.
I don't know whether I'm just lucky and got six kids with an absolute flair for picking presents, or if we simply nurtured that empathy and generosity that's inherent in all children. Either way, I love it. You'd think you'd go through years of, “Mama, I got you a Tonka Truck! Can I borrow it?” but that has never happened. I've gotten homemade theaters with a puppet representing each family member, a stiletto letter opener, an entire series of “Dr. Who,” an easel and oil paints, a personalized cell-phone ring and a garden gnome holding a lantern that really lights up after dark. What do these things have in common?
Why, they're TOYS! Lovely toys, all chosen with my tastes and personality in mind. I would rather have a dollar-store gift from one of my kids than any expensive gadget bought through a personal shopper; and I hope our dear Mollie receives an abundance of this kind of present today!
We spent my birthday in Las Vegas with a poltergeist, a bunch of old (literally AND figuratively) friends, and the Vegas Mob. Fun was had by all, but I'd trade all that for a garden gnome!!!!