Every person has one each year. It is a day to reflect, celebrate and bask in the activities that make one happy and content.
On birthdays, it is customary to receive greeting cards, phone calls, texts, gifts and online greeting messages from well-wishers. As I commemorate another 365 days of my life, I am planning to indulge myself with the things I enjoy most in life: a dinner prepared by someone other than me, a nap, a piece of birthday cake and a relaxing pedicure.
My husband tells me I have a “birthday trimester” which begins the week before, extends to the week of my actual birthday then carries over to the following week. To my way of thinking, this amount of self-indulgence seems to be insufficient time to commemorate the day my mother and father became parents for the first time in their young lives.
Mama turned 19 a little over two weeks prior to my birth, and I made my debut into the world the day before Daddy caught up with her.
Now that I have grandchildren of that age and older, I seriously doubt that these two teenagers knew what to do with a baby, but they managed to accept responsibility, and to give me the best life had to offer.
With the help of four doting grandparents, I thrived and grew from infancy to adolescence surrounded by love, discipline and family. It was from my family that I learned the importance of hard work, commitment and faith. Fish every Friday and Mass every Sunday was instilled into me from birth.
Taught by example, rather than mere words, I was a product of cloth diapers, playpens, homemade baby formula and strained table foods. Sleeping on my stomach became a lifetime practice that I never outgrew, and my primitive car seat did not meet any government standards, yet here I still am.
I learned to walk, talk, feed myself, drink from a cup and mastered the invaluable art of potty training under the guidance of my parents. I often marvel at how all of those life skills developed. We all come into this world without those basic capabilities, and not until I became a parent did I fully appreciate how much time and effort is required to instill those accomplishments into helpless babies.
Once I did find my speaking voice, I have utilized it to the fullest extent on a daily basis, to the frustration of my school teachers. I am living proof that writing “I will not talk in class” does not deter someone from doing it.
I progressed from learning to ride a tricycle, roller skate, balance a two-wheel bike to driving a car. Daddy was determined that I would learn to drive his manual shift coupe, and it was a test of patience on his part and determination and endurance on mine. How the gears, clutch, and our father-daughter relationship survived those grueling sessions is nothing short of a miracle.
On my 16th birthday, we went to the Highway Patrol office, and I acquired my lifelong ticket to independence by passing my driver’s test. I treasure that piece of paper to this day and will never willingly relinquish it. (Take note of this, my children).
Not every birthday has been happy, but those that were not are few in comparison with those that were, and they inevitably occur over the course of each life.
Because I was born on the day before my Daddy’s birthday, we always celebrated together, so that first year after he passed away was extremely difficult and still is a reminder that he has joined Mama for all eternity.
The presents I have received over the years have been numerous and I know that I am indeed blessed. However, I have reached the age when too much “stuff” has accumulated, and I am trying to divest my life of material things, which is challenging for my packrat mentality. I am now focusing on the gifts of just spending time with loved ones and realizing how precious each day is in my life.
Copyright © 2022 Mary Margaret Lambert