This past week I celebrated my 39th birthday. After a busy day with my daughters, shuffling them to tennis and baseball, followed by my weekly writing group, I sat down at the kitchen table with my daughters and husband for cake. As they serenaded me, I felt full of love watching the gleam of excitement in my daughters’ eyes as they anticipated helping me blow out the candle and thereafter getting the first burst of sugar on their tongues from the frosting.
Smiling at my family, I thought about how different I was ending this decade than how I entered it. A newlywed with no children, waking each morning at peak health to go to the gym, still working as an attorney and writing late into the night, trying to fulfill my dream of becoming a published author. Life felt busy, yet simple, happy, if not a tad predictable.
Now, life is chaotic, fulfilling, and unpredictable. I’ve found great joy in sharing my passions with my girls: reading books, writing stories, and playing sports. I’m in awe of how the girls are both parts of my husband and I, yet unique individuals branching out to discover their own paths. In between their playdates and sports, I hustle to doctor and therapy appointments, trying to manage the body that broke after the birth of my second daughter. Relief from the pain comes in the solitary hours, still late at night, when I am busy writing my next novel. Delving into the fictional lives of my characters, their problems, wants, and needs as close and insistent as my own, gives me the energy to fight through. Be a better mother, wife, human. The upcoming release of my novel Open in December, the icing on my metaphorical cake in leaving behind my thirties.
My daughters know little of my physical struggles. They still believe birthdays are magical, that the wishes we make will come true. That I will get better. Before blowing out the candle as a trio, they turned to me, eyes the size of quarters, wanting to know my wish. Just as I was giving them the experience of my birthday, I realized I too was giving them my wish. At thirty, all my wishes were self-involved…I want, I need, I hope. Now, every wish starts and ends with them. More moments together. More magic in their lives. More laughs. Wonder. The ability to rise above struggles. Dive into joy.
It’s a secret, I said. If I tell you, it won’t come true. And right then, one of my wishes came true: they believed me.