Another birthday has come and gone. I can’t say I feel any older or wiser. Just tired. And cranky. With a lot more gray hairs. And unable to fit into most of my clothes.
This past Friday I turned thirty-seven. My husband had the day off from work. He kept insisting I take small trips away from the house, so I could enjoy some time to myself. Much as I need this and crave this, I wanted to also spend time with him and the kids.
In the morning, we all got to enjoy a homemade pancake breakfast together. Then, I was gifted with a vibrant painting from my preschooler (depicting a trampoline that is “so, so, super huge that a hundred people could fit on it,” alongside a purple tree). She had made it for me at school. When I thanked her for thinking of me at school, and for being so thoughtful, she quickly gave credit to my husband, noting, “Daddy told me I had to do it for you.” Ha!
In addition to my lovely painting, my husband presented me with a gift card for a (much deserved, if I may say so!) spa package, which I plan to use when we all are a bit more settled in our new routines and I feel at ease getting away for more than just a couple hours at a time. Hopefully before I turn another year older!
Then, in the afternoon, while all the kids were napping, I did take my husband up on the offer of leaving the house for a little bit. I stopped briefly for an iced coffee, hit the highway fast at 70 mph, with the windows down, wind blowing my hair, and country radio on full blast. For just a few moments, I felt like a million bucks. A huge smile spread across my face.
Although I was only going to an appointment for an eyebrow wax, I imagined I was in my twenties again. I could have been road-tripping through the south with a great friend, making stops in Atlanta, Memphis, and Nashville, like I did in 2002. Or, I could have been on my way to Farm Pond in Sherborn, Mass., going for a swim, as I often did in 2003. Or heading out for a hike in North Conway, NH during the summers of 2005 and 2006. I was free and flying solo, and for the fifteen minutes of that drive, it felt amazing. And energizing.
Even though my life is really challenging now—figuring out how to juggle a newborn, a toddler, and a preschooler, all while trying to manage to keep my sanity, despite not getting decent amounts of sleep at night—that drive gave me hope for some time in the future, hopefully not too far away, when I will once again be able to reclaim that part of myself that I remembered so well on that ride—the young, free-spirited, spontaneous and adventure-seeking part of me. The part that has faded into the background just a bit, because more important, more urgent life events have come to the forefront.
When I told my husband about how getting away made me feel, later at dinner that night (another birthday treat—thanks to a gift card from one set of of our parents, and the babysitting prowess of another set), I teared up just a little remembering how sweet and fleeting the moment was. He reminded me how important it is to make time to get away, if only for a little bit.
I will try to keep this in mind in the seemingly chaotic weeks and months to come, as we head into Liam’s busy time of the year, when the kids and I will see less and less of him, and more and more of each other.