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The Numbers That Matter
So here we are............... the birthday I was supposed to celebrate doing something I've never done before. My friends and I have been mulling over numerous possibilities for months, and needless to say, we couldn't agree on anything. Then the handle of my kitchen sink broke off in my hand while I was making coffee yesterday for two of those very same friends. So I do get my wish, and I will be doing something I've never done before this weekend; I will be venturing into the world of plumbing for the very first time, and by God I will conquer that faucet.
What I really wanted wasn't quite so complicated. If I could be anywhere; it would be Alaska with my son; if I could do anything; it would be to stand at the base of a waterfall soaking in the mist and losing myself in the roar of rushing water; if I could see one face; it would be my dad's, and if I could hug only one person I'd have to split my kids in half because there wouldn't be a choice.
Needless to say, I won't get any of these things. My son is far away, and so is my daughter. The waterfall will sadly have to wait, and I will never again have the opportunity to gaze into my father's eyes, and my kids, they need to stay whole. So what's a girl to do? Exactly what everyone expects her NOT to do. This birthday will be spent on self reflection, ignoring true age, watching plumbing videos on youtube, and thinking about all of the lessons the last six years have taught me. I am turning six today. Not physically mind you, that's quite obvious, and not mentally; I wouldn't want to do any of it all over again. The first time was enough for me, but six is a good number, and I have learned more in the last six years than I had ever learned in those that preceded. Six is a good number, and I am claiming it for my own, just because I want to.
The last six years have been a roller coaster ride. There are periods where I've found myself flying down steep mountains, and occasionally I've jumped off that roller coaster head on into the unknown. I like to jump; I love the unknown; I've even learned to appreciate the occasional crash. Other periods find me leisurely rolling along checking out the landscape, crossing the country by myself, talking to myself for hours on end because I can't get a radio signal and one of the dogs has spilled the smoothie that took out my CD player. No radio, no music, just the sound of my own voice as I describe the landscape that surrounds me. Breathtaking!
Sometimes it's a never ending uphill climb, that slow chugging motion and the constant clicking of the rails; those times when it's all about paying the bills, and spending money I don't have. It's about two jobs, then three, and feeling like I never get off of the roller coaster because I'm always running from one place to the next. It's the time spent traveling back and forth, the time you spend missing the kids and feeling like your not a mother anymore, and worrying about the same thing, but I never had to worry; I'll always be their mom. I've never been one to focus on the number or the birthday, but the years that my children have ticked off since their entrance into the world never ceases to amaze me. Their birthdays leave my thinking, "Whoa! If you're adults what am I?"
The coaster never stops, but there are always those smooth patches in between the climbing and the falling. Those are the times I can see the world, the people, and the smiles. That's the ride that given me the most; the knowledge that goodness, kindness, strangers, and friends are both in front of and behind us. That we're never alone unless we want to be, and that there's always someone ready to tell you to open your eyes, but even better than that, that there's always someone ready to catch us when we fall, or to watch and laugh if we leap. I love knowing that I can leap and be answerable to no one but myself, and I love knowing that the people who love me will be there if I miss the mark.
In the last six years I've learned that there's nothing to hide from, that I can do anything. I've learned that not doing something because somebody else may judge you unkindly or become angry is no reason not to do it, and every reason to. I've learned that the freedom and sense of adventure I instilled in my children applies to me as well, that the freedom I abandoned for a short while wasn't given up, that you can take it back in its entirety, that no one can hold you prisoner without your consent, and that a marriage certificate doesn't make a marriage.
So for my son; on this my sixth birthday I give you the picture you wanted. The people reading this won't know that I run from cameras, that the photographs I hold in my mind are the real things, or that the "fake" photos of happy smiles and shadowed eyes have long left the place we live. Last year wasn't the first birthday celebrated without you, but it was the first since you've left home. You've lived in three different states in the last year, and I am so lucky that you don't need a reason to call me, that I don't have to wait for a call or a special occasion to hear your voice. Enjoy the picture QT, it the first in what? Ten years? I wish I was with you, and I will be soon.................. sitting in front of this very same monitor watching the satellite feed of your game. Technology is a wonderful thing. That you've even entered this site amazes me, and yet again, I know you will stay far away from certain topics. No need to read through what you've lived through. You make me smile every day............. never forget that.
For my daughter............ you are always going to be half my age (that makes you three, ugh, I might want to go back before you could talk). Don't you love it? And yet you're far wiser at your age than I ever was. You've learned as much as I have, and although I wish I could have kept you wrapped up in a blanket; that wasn't to be. I respect your innate independence, and I try to ignore your occasional self righteousness (most of the time), and when I can't ignore it I will continue to step on you just a bit. You are the toughest woman I know, and the most beautiful, inside and out. I know you'll never read this, but had to say it anyway just in case you decide to stop by someday. The unspeakable hasn't been spoken, it's just been written, and when all is said and done it is nothing but words.
So off I go; I've written my first birthday hub, and I'm going to install my first faucet, or attempt it anyway. But I forgot one thing, and that would be the most important thing I've learned in the last six years.................. birthdays are just days, and days can't be measured in hours and minutes; they are measured in moments. Live the moments.