Saturday, August 26, 2006

Some Unbirthday Thoughts

So - yesterday went well, considering that I spend most of my birthdays feeling sad, lonely and crying on and off. I have been pondering the change, and I think God has been gently working on my heart again.

There have been so many wonderful little things happening at our house since we got home from vacation. It's been so, so good for me, because it's kept me from focusing on just how much I miss my family, which is what I usually do when we get back from Michigan.

  • My girlie didn't have any pain when she re-broke her arm.
  • The pediatric orthopaedist did her surgery this time, and is taking care of her. I like his plan of care for my daughter better than what we did last time with the other doctor.
  • We got signed up for a homeschool co-op - YAY!
  • The very, very nice co-op people put the broken child into a Backyard Scientist class, even though it was already full, instead of the PE class I chose (Doctor says not even ballet until after the first of the year).
  • The folks in my small group gave me a Happy Birthday balloon, flowers, and a giant cookie for my birthday!
I know there have been other little things, too, but these are the ones that come to mind. God has conspired to keep me out of the doldrums, for which I am so grateful.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me!

I turned 35 today. Normally, I don't ascribe significance to my birthdays; I don't care that much about getting older. Today, though, was different. Today I learned something.

My husband and I moved to North Carolina 8 years ago. It was a tough decision for us; we needed to establish our marriage on our own, but we both grew up in Michigan and hated to leave our extended families behind. I knew God was leading us here, but it was scary.

In my family, birthdays are a big deal. My mom has a gift for making you feel so special, so loved on your birthday - it's a beautiful thing. I grew up spending my birthday with grandparents, aunts, uncles cousins; whoever could come and have cake. Since we moved here, I think I've had family with me once.

So, I've been depressed on my birthday almost every year. I just figured it was what it was; I miss my family and I am acutely aware of how much on that particular day.

Today, though, was different. I had to renew my driver's license, and my husband stayed home from work so that I could go to a scrapbooking event at a friend's house. I could not let him see that I was feeling blue when he surprised me by taking the day off for my birthday! So, I smiled a lot, thanked him profusely, opened my presents from my family with the girlies, and then got on my way to the DMV.

On the way, I had to stop at a gas station for my caffeine fix, and the man working there was so friendly and cheerful, that I fixed a smile on my face and said "Great!" when he asked how I was, and chatted with him a minute. I felt my spirits lift a little more.

At the DMV, I made a real effort to be friendly; people who work with the general public day in and day out do not need any more unhappy people in their day. I chatted with a girl in line about the cool purse she was carrying, and found out she'd gotten it in England. I told her my funny license renewing story from last year (see below) and we both laughed. I thanked the woman who gave me my new license, and she thanked me for thanking her - I could hear the surprise in her voice that someone showed gratitude in the DMW office.

When I got to my friend's house, I met another homeschooling mom, which was a tremendous blessing in itself. She also had her 6 year old daughter with her, and I learned that this little girl and I share the same birthday. I could not possibly feel sorry for myself in the presence of this beautiful child celebrating her special day, telling me all about the Ariel birthday party she's having - you know how much fun it is to have a birthday when you're 6, right?

I have a Mary Kay business, and one thing you hear a lot is "Fake it until you make it!" I suppose you hear it in any sales-related field. You have to put on a happy face when you deal with people because they need to know you are focusing on them and their needs. I am not typically good at hiding my feelings, and don't often put much effort into it. Today, I put it into practice, and it WORKED. I started the day feeling blue, but when I stepped out of my pity party and made a point to be cheerful to other people, somehow the smile worked its way into my heart, and by the end of the day, it was real.

I can still feel that little place in my heart that wishes I could have celebrated my birthday today with my parents, my siblings, sibs-in-law, my nieces and nephew. However, I learned that even on MY birthday, I don't have to wallow. I can rise above the sadness and, eventually, the joy will creep its way into me and become the real thing.

(License renewing story: Last year, my husband got a card in the mail to renew his driver's license; we thought since we'd been here 7 years it was time to renew. He got his, and a week later, I went to get mine. At the DMV, I handed over my old license to the nice gentleman helping me, and he asked me what I wanted to to do. I told him since I'd lived here 7 years it was time to get a new driver's license. He said, "Ma'am, you can't renew this more than 180 days before it expires. What is it that you want me to do today?" I said, "I have lived here for 7 years, and I need to renew my license!" He then explained to me that in North Carolina, you renew on your birthdays ending in 5 or 0; my husband had turned 35, but I was still a year away. So I got to go home and tell my husband how OLD he was. And that although I would be 35 the following year, he would still turn 36 first. Ha!)