Birthdays

Happy Birthday!

We recently celebrated Riley’s first birthday. On June 1, Rob will turn 50, and my grandmother will turn 90. I think about the span of these years, almost a hundred years between Riley and her great-great grandmother. Rob is right in the middle. Funny how at the early ages, each year is so eagerly anticipated, and at our point in life, the number becomes something to be joked about, maybe secretly feared, but as much dreaded as celebrated.

Well, I’m all done with that. I can’t turn the clock back, and I don’t even want to. Oh, I wouldn’t mind a discreet nip and tuck in a couple of places, but other than being in need of a bit of cosmetic touch up, I’m beginning to appreciate this stage of life in ways I never anticipated.

I know my skills, my strengths, my good points, my faults. I accept myself, although I am still (as always) seeking to improve. Acceptance doesn’t equal indifference. It just means that I try, fail, try again, and keep smiling.

But perhaps more important, I accept others. Acceptance doesn’t equal approval. But my role in life is not to go about approving of others. My job is to become my best self, and to meet others where they are. My job is to lighten the load where I can, to be salt and light where I can. To bring comfort where I can.

Each of us has a circle of influence and a circle of people we impact. In the sea of humanity, my circle is quite small. My place in life is small. But I can choose to be of value to those in my life. And that’s my goal. I’m excited to have the freedom and flexibility in my life to give, to share, to nurture, to extend myself. At 50, that’s what I celebrate.

At one time, I thought my heart was breaking. But now I find it was breaking open. And that’s a good thing to know, at the ripe old age of 50.

Happy birthday to the lucky ones that have birthdays on the horizon. I’ll never dread another one. That’s a promise I’m making to myself this very day. And if I’m fortunate enough to have my grandmother’s longevity, I’ll count my wrinkles and my days with joy.

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Baby giggles

My iPhone alerts me to an incoming text: my daughter Stephanie has sent a new photo of Riley, her six month old daughter and our first grandchild. There is an attached audio file. I listen and hear baby giggles, little belly laughs from Riley.

The next week Riley is jumping in her bouncing seat, flexing her legs and squealing with delight. She’s learning to have fun, discovering joy. I hear these little noises over the phone as Stephanie says “say hi to Gram.”

Riley was born in April, a few months before I turned 50. I admit, delighted as I was for Stephanie and Matt, her husband, to welcome this little one, I had a small, vain corner of my heart that was unsure of what this event would do to me. It would make me a grandmother, that much I knew. But would it jettison me into some next life phase that I wasn’t ready for? Would I suddenly BE a grandmother?

Like some other milestones I’ve been unsure about…turning 40, turning 50… becoming a grandmother has been simple after all. Who can resist baby softness, the first giggles, the little face I see in photos? Listening to my daughter talk about Riley, her milestones, her emerging personality, I remember my own early motherhood experiences. I see Stephanie growing, expanding and understanding things I’ve been saying for years.

I like the quote from Elizabeth Stone:

    ” Making the decision to have a child – its momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

And now I know it continues, past the child, on to the next generation.

Riley, ready for Halloween!