I love my birthday. A lot. Usually I spend the whole week celebrating (often to the extent of annoying those around me), doing things each day that make me happy, special things, eating my favorite treats, wearing my favorite outfits.
This year, my birthday has become something else, something even bigger. It’s the day my mom pushed me out of her body with all the pain, violence, power, joy, blood, guts, and poop of my own labor just four weeks ago. My birthday marks this day that was so intense for us both, something we did together. Being born is a big deal! It’s really hard! And amazing. The world splits open. Something begins. Something ends.
This week it’s been mostly me and Giles, our (mostly) quiet cycle of feeding, changing diapers, staring into each others’ eyes. Does he know it’s my birthday tomorrow? That I made the same strange journey into the world as he did? Tomorrow also marks four weeks since his entrance: the longest, hardest, best day of my life. It’s wrong, I think, to say “hardest,” because the day my mom died was actually the hardest day. Hard in a different way. Different kinds of pain.
The last of my birthdays that I spent with my mom was when I turned 27. My parents and I went bike riding around town and got milk shakes.
I loved bike riding with my mom. She LOVED riding her bike so much and that joy was contagious. She’d be the leader, ringing her bell to signal if she was stopping or just to say hi. She had a “bike dance.” We’d fly around town, we the non-drivers, on our beautiful bikes feeling the breeze and feeling so cool and feeling so free.
Tomorrow Giles and I will not be bike riding. We’ll probably do the same things we do most days. He will look at me with those big, gorgeous eyes he has, I will coo at him, we’ll make faces at each other. I’ll nurse him a million times. Change a million diapers. As I mark 31 years I know that my life is hugely different now. But also I’m the same person.
On my third birthday I asked my mom, “Mama, when will I be three?”
“After your nap,” she said.
Mama, when will I be thirty-one?
After your nap.
And so ends the tumultuous twenties.
One of my favorite birthday stories is from when I turned one. My mom made me a special Big Bird cake, and cupcakes for all the other kids at my party. But I wanted a cupcake too, and so when my cousin Craig wasn’t looking, I grabbed his and shoved it in my mouth.
First of all, happy birthday Mama!
It’s been a busy summer and I hadn’t been able to go to my weekly life drawing group in a LONG time and last night was my first night back. Often when I haven’t been in a while my drawings don’t come out very good, because my life drawing muscles haven’t been exercised. But sometimes that freshness of not having been works really well. Last night was great! Not only did it feel so good to be there but I also have some drawings that I’m really proud of. Here are my favorites (click on each image to see it bigger):