Friday, January 8th, was the best. From the sweetest birthday messages, phone calls and texts from family and friends, LinkedIn connections, Facebook and of course my Instagram family, to the surprise girls trip over the weekend from my wonderful husband- it was truly a special day to get the privilege to celebrate.
I used to hate celebrating my birthday. It’s only been in the last five to six years that I have embraced and truly enjoyed my birthdays. I’ve always been a driven and ambitious person so each passing year that I wouldn’t achieve what I thought I should have by that point in my life, I’d use my birthday as a frustrating reminder – a pesky nuisance – that I wasn’t where I “should be” and therefore wasn’t living up to this standard I’d created in my mind. I was purposely setting the bar higher than I knew was attainable as a form of self sabotage that allowed me to use my birthday as an excuse to hate getting older. No one ‘likes’ growing old, right?
In the midst of our move to Nashville, years ago, which was a tumultuous time in our lives and our marriage – we had a lot of tough conversations and tense moments. We were on the precipice of our relationship’s fracture, walking the tightrope of therapy. Out of all of the mess and the pain and the healing, we made it to the other side because of the deep love we have for each other. We rounded the corner of 2015 into 2016 with hope and excitement for a fresh start and a new beginning to our life, our family and our love.
Shortly after moving into our Brentwood community, we found out we were pregnant with our third. I’ll never forget that moment of half joking half uncomfortable laughing…then silence, holding our breath while we’re both simultaneously thinking to ourselves, “oh shit what if we really are pregnant?” Then the reality of it all settling in – in an instant – once those two lines popped up and the test flashed PREGNANT. And all of that going down before 8 AM on my thirty-fourth birthday.
That year my birthday was on a Friday, same as it was this year, and Dan had made us reservations at what would become our absolute favorite restaurant in Nashville, Etch. As I was getting ready our doorbell rang so I yelled for someone to go get it. Dan hurriedly rushed into the bathroom annoyed because, well – if you know me – I was running late. I had one hand holding the curling iron and the other one holding the eyelash curler. It’s tricky but it can be done, ladies. Impatiently, he stresses his need that I come to the door. I finish up what I was doing and head that way. The moment I saw my best friend and her husband through the glass I screamed and starting jumping up and down. My husband had surprised me by inviting them down for the weekend, making this an incredibly memorable moment on multiple fronts.
That evening, at dinner, my husband’s birthday toast revealed that unfortunately my imbibing would end with the glass of champagne we were all sipping on because we would be adding to our family. It is a snapshot in time that I will never forget. We wrapped up our dinner, headed back home and finished up the weekend relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. I often reflect on that birthday being the one that changed my mind about birthdays; celebrating them isn’t as bad as I had convinced myself they were. Since that low key yet wonderful birthday I have been fortunate to celebrate 5 more years of life and this year, as I head into the last one before crossing over into the threshold of legitimate adulthood, I find myself reflecting more than ever on the birthdays I have been fortunate enough to make it to.
2017, and year thirty-five, was memorable because it was the birthday I was a first-time mom of three! It was also the birthday that began discussions for me to return to the company I had left at the end of 2015 to pursue a promotional opportunity with a different organization and within a different industry. I enjoyed it enough and the work was challenging but the travel schedule was brutal. Having a new born and being on a flight less than 8 weeks after he was born was a huge wake up call that quality of life is more important than money in the bank. The conversations that started around my birthday that year ultimately led me back to the corporation I had called home for the seven years prior to leaving, of which I have now been back almost 4 years.
I lost my dad to aplastic anemia shortly after turning thirty-six in 2018. Ten days after my birthday he collapsed in the bathroom and my mother had to call 911 for him to be rushed to the hospital. While we didn’t expect to lose him that soon after he fell ill and was hospitalized, that year of life will forever be shaped by the death of the man whom I loved more than anything in this world and who I miss more than I’m ever willing to admit – wishing daily I could hug him just one more time. This was the year I decidedly chose to embrace living this life – even if it meant accepting the pain that comes along with it.
Thirty-seven was the year of pushing limits and boundaries. My husband surprised me again, this time with a ski trip to Vermont – a state I had always wanted to visit since growing up watching White Christmas with my mom yearly during the holidays. It had been over two decades since I had skied but it was something we always said we wanted to do together. And since I suck at golf and can’t swing a tennis racket to save my life…I figured he thought he’d start ticking off other options to see where we landed. Our future in retirement together rests on our ability to have just one single activity we can do together – besides loving up on each other. 🙂 Thankfully, he didn’t have to resort to shuffle board as skiing quickly became our “thing” and we now look forward to it twice a year as a celebration of both of our birthdays.
2019 was also the year that we found out my husband’s career would be moving us to South Florida, a state we actually swore we’d never move to, ha! I also have a thriving career and the shift in direction caught me off guard but we welcomed the opportunity and the change for our family. I was thankfully able to stay with my company, albeit taking a step back, but we used the transition to begin thinking about how we could finally lay down roots after 3 moves in less than 7 years, and how we could *maybe* dare we say it – settle in?
Then came 2020 in all its circus show glory. But we didn’t know that before turning thirty-eight, celebrating again in Vermont with a ski trip and ringing in the new year of life with high hopes and newly minted statuses as South Floridians. While last year wasn’t what any of us had planned, I didn’t it allow it to derail my intentions for the year. I penned thirty-eight intentions for thirty-eight years of life at the onset of the new decade and excitedly planned and prepared for how I would be intentional in accomplishing each of my goals.
While I wasn’t able to accomplish many of the intentions I set out to, last year did bring about an opportunity for me to expand my blog and create the Managing Motherhood Series where women from all across the globe guest blogged on my site, sharing their stories of working motherhood and their journeys. I’m continuing this into 2021, before venturing into my second series on Managing Marriage, and it starts back up on Monday. Last year also afforded my daughter and I the opportunity to go into business together. We designed, created and launched our first product at the end of November in an effort to give back to the community while supporting all of the working mamas we know that make it happen for their companies and their families on the daily. We made a goal of selling 150 mugs and so far we have sold 86! If you’re interested in purchasing a mug – send me a DM here and we’ll get you set up!
Thirty-eight ended great but thirty-nine has me feeling fine. See what I did there? Piling on the cheesiness in this last year of my thirties before entering a new decade, and relishing the fact that I have so much to be thankful for and so much for which I am grateful to have been able to achieve these past 39 years on this Earth. Ever the surprise artist my sweet husband yet again made all my birthday wishes and dreams come true. I cheerfully celebrated – with my best friend – at the Fountainbleau in Miami, soaking up the sun and sipping yummy cocktails while catching up on life, courtesy of Mr. Smith. Since we’ve had to put a slight hold on our ski trip due to some COVID restrictions at the resort we’ve gone to the past two years, he redirected this year and let me have a moment with one of my dearest friends whom I don’t often get to see since we live so far apart now.
As I arrived home Sunday evening, having been away from my kids for three days, I was welcomed with the best surprise of all: a beautifully designed and baked cake from my daughter, the table set – complete with Champagne – and the most delicious filet prepared by the most handsomely wonderful man I’m honored to call mine. Dan, Miriam, Luke and Jude showered me with hugs, kisses, cards and the sweetest words to make this one of the best birthdays yet.
How do you view turning a year older? Do you embrace each passing year or avoid it like the plague? I’d love to know in the comments section!
~ Confessions of a Corporate Mom