Yesterday we celebrated my dear hubby’s 36th birthday. And it was a good day for me to choose the word “notice” from our list. And as you may have “noticed” I am no longer choosing a word a day. I don’t want to. And, as you also know, I am essentially refusing to do things simply because I should. So, we’ll just see where this takes me. Maybe I’ll get to all the words. Maybe I won’t. What about you? Are you still tackling a word a day during this busy time?
Back to our birthday celebration. As I lay in bed putting our two little girls to sleep last night, my heart was full. I felt tears just behind my eyes. I was reflecting on our day, which was far from the day Good Girl thinks she should be providing to her husband on his birthday. This year, when I felt that old familiar feeling that I should sacrifice ALL to make sure he has the PERFECT day (according to my Good Girl standards) I resisted it.
Here is an example. . .
Every year, we do a treasure hunt for all members of the family when they first wake up on their birthday. Clues lead you to find your first gift of the day. This year, I was going to a concert the night before E’s big day. And in the midst of preparing for that and decorating a Christmas tree and other such holiday hoopla, I did not prepare the hunt. When I arrived home from my night on the town, it was 12:30 am. I was tired and I knew that 5:30 am would come all too soon (Big C’s wake up time). The Voice tried to tell me that I HAD to do the hunt. And implied that if I didn’t, I would be a very Bad Girl! I ignored it. She tried again. I went to bed.
Fast forward to 10 AM. E had left the house early to take himself out for breakfast and an early morning hike in some solitude. The girls and I had grocery shopped (and picked up his requested dinner ingredients) and were now scrambling to finish a hunt. We wrapped his gift and Big C cut out the clues and numbered them. We literally finish the last clue as E pulls into the driveway. The absolute sweetness of this moment strikes me because we would have missed it, had Good Girl won out and I had been SUPER prepared. Big C opens the front door and shouts “Don’t come in for one more minute!” The three of us run around giggling, hiding the clues and the present. We finally allow Daddy admittance to his birthday extravaganza! And after he finds his present (which was a hit-new cozy pj pants!) I found myself just filled with love for my dear partner in crime. I climbed on his lap for a birthday hug and snuggle. I mention this because, had I made myself stay up late to GET HIS HUNT DONE, I not sure I would have been so likely to do so. I see know that forcing perfection breeds a feeling of rigidity that translates to a lack of affection. It happens all the time. I pull away from my family because I’m feeling rigid over trying to make things perfect for them!
I think in this process of letting go, I am trading in PERFECTION for genuine life moments. Isn’t this what is important? How we feel on the birthday of a loved one? How we connect with that person and reflect on what this person means to us? It all sounds so simple when I write it out here. And yet, in those moments when The Voice speaks to me of “what is RIGHT” and “BEST” and “EXPECTED” I actually believe her! I believe her by default.
The rest of our day involved all sorts of LIFE, not perfection. I even took a nap! (Usually, I assume I should be a slave to the birthday boy, no matter what my needs.) There were brownies, out of a box! I did not put out pictures of him as a baby or make a birthday table (Waldorf style) with pictures and flowers, etc. What we did instead was dig through some boxes to find the slide show that we played at our wedding. It has baby pictures of us both. So we got to see wee baby E. And there was sweetness there too. Watching pictures of the two of us growing up together (we’ve known each other since we were about 11) and thinking about the life we have now created together.
So what about from the birthday boy’s perspective? I wonder, is he satisfied with his birthday? I think so. He had his morning to himself. He got to drink beer and watch football. And he got to spend time with his two adoring daughters, who both insisted on sitting in his lap for dinner. He later told me that was his favorite part of the day.
There were no fancy gifts, no big parties, no big tributes to Daddy. Just simple, good, and full of love and everyday life.