and it has been even more of a marathon this year due to an added birthday in the family as a nephew of mine made an early appearance just a few days before my kids birthdays and things have yet to calm down since then. but i have this to say about tandem birthdays (that is to say, the birthdays of two children on back-to-back days). they are exhausting. not only because of all of the celebratory stuff you try to cram into two days (cakes and presents, decorations and special birthday activities) but because there are inevitable ups and downs for the kids (joel had a really hard time letting go of his birthday this year and was pretty pissed when he woke up the next day and it was already his sister’s birthday. on her birthday, ruth kept saying, “but it’s my birthday” while demanding outrageous things and acting somewhat reminiscent of a jerk then later when she blew out her candles, she started all out sobbing) as well as for you.
it may sound selfish but i still very much consider my kids birthdays a huge milestone for me and often on their birthdays, if i can find time, i end up pondering my own journey into parenthood up to this point and the immense ways that my life and my outlook have changed since adding new family members.
the kids birthdays being in early may, you can never count on the weather and, though last year it was around eighty and sunny and we even spent some time at a beach, this year, ruth’s birthday was cold, around 50, and rainy. needless to say, there were no beaches involved this birthday year but we did at least get outside after greg got home from work for a walk around the block. despite the cold and rain, it is a beautiful time of year when everything is in bloom, flowers and trees alike and every day that you look out the window, something is changing. to me, it’s an extremely appropriate time to celebrate the birth of a baby, the arrival of a new person into your family. because it’s just like those trees and shrubs and patches of soil. where something that looked so empty just the day before is now bursting with life before your eyes. a miracle every time.
on the walk, ruth chatted on incessantly while joel stomped in puddles and all over people’s lawns. miles fell asleep in the stroller, comforted by the familiar chaos surrounding him and the rhythmic bumping of the wheels over uneven pavement. at one point, i took a long look at ruth and couldn’t for the life of me discern any trace of the newborn baby that suddenly appeared seemingly out of thin air into my life and existence six years earlier. no matter how hard i searched her face and person, i couldn’t find the unsteady toddler, the precise and eccentric three year old, the young person i had once known. this was someone similar yet very different. it’s at once joyful and tragic to watch your children grow up.
i turned to greg and i said, “when your kids are first born you think it has a lot to do with you. they feel like an extension of you: everything they say and do and look like. but then they start growing and you realize that it doesn’t really have anything to do with you.” i shook my head vaguely then at my own naivety of just a few years earlier, disbelieving how wrong a person can be when they feel so sure and confident of something.
the kids disappeared for a second around a corner up ahead and i continued, “it’s hard especially for someone as possessive as i am to realize…i don’t get to keep them.”