My puppy greeted me with a puddle of pee on my 47th birthday. The dogs, as is the case lately, have kept me up at all hours of the night. Post-spaying GI issues for Boo (that’s kind of an understatement). And Sulley? Irritated that he is sleeping in his crate again because of the puppy. A true older sibling, most nights Sulley takes one for the team and goes in his crate because the puppy cries if he doesn’t sleep right next to her. We do put extra burdens on the older siblings, don’t we?
So, after about three hours of unsuccessfully attempting to Ferberize both dogs, I got them out of their crates and let them sleep on my bed. I wished myself a Happy Birthday around 2AM as I heaved her and the cone of shame on the bed. I knew that it meant I was guaranteed to wake to a puddle of pee. Boo thinks it’s much easier to jump off the bed and go right there when she wakes up. After this winter, I don’t really blame her.
I wake up in my own puddle around 4 AM. Between the dogs and the hot flashes, I don’t sleep much lately. I spend time in the backyard looking up at the faint, light-polluted Chicago stars as I wait for a puppy to do her business. It occurs to me that it might be dangerous to be outside by myself, the kids sound asleep. It occurs to me that I have to make sure I don’t lock myself out. It occurs to me that I look like a clown — in pajamas, a coat, and my son’s Vans that are entirely too big on my feet. When did that happen?
My husband is in Boston during the week working. I’m in Chicago raising the kids and making sure they don’t have to move right now. We are making it work. But Jesus, it’s hard some nights. Some nights when you don’t want to be the only responsible one. Some nights when you want to be the kid, sound asleep in bed while the grown ups take care of the heavy lifting. I’ve never had so much respect for single moms. If you had/have one, please reconsider the size of your Mother’s Day gift.
I’m quite sure I haven’t spent a birthday without my husband since I was probably 11 years old. The years that have gone by are a cloud of laughter and dinners and trips and picnic lunches on spring days. A cloud of work, and pregnancy, and giggling babies. A cloud of teenagers and transitions and moves. Dark and tough moments that go away as I take my trip around the sun and turn my face to feel its warmth.
My warmth today will come from a daughter who drove to get me Starbucks and left it on the bar before she went to high school at 7AM. It will come from the flowers that my husband sent from Boston and the promise of a wonderful weekend. It will come from girlfriends, who are an invaluable part of being a middle-aged mom. It will come from friends and family all over the country who will check in and wish me happiness (and also my insurance agent and our orthodontist). It will come from the birthday text string with a friend that morphed into a conversation about kids going to college, with her reassuring me that “I’ve got this.”
My 46th year has brought much change. Some of it was out of my control. Some of it I have hoisted upon myself. But I am stronger and I am fixing things and my world is bigger. Holy shit though. Change is messy and hard. My 47th year will be about a senior in high school and making college choices and preparing us all for her next exciting chapter.
The day I found out I was pregnant with that girl was 18 years ago today. Tonight she and her brother and her best friend will take me out to a birthday dinner. She will be my designated driver if I drink too much wine and she regularly calms me down when the world becomes too much. Thanks a lot, Trump.
The roles are slowly, slowly reversing. The seasons of my life, well, they are changing.