Wednesday, August 7, 2013

31 Flavors (and Then Some)

When I turned 30 there was so much changing in my life, that nothing slowed down long enough for me to really think about it. Sure, I was no longer in my 20s, but being 9 months pregnant on my 30th birthday, there wasn't much else I could focus on besides getting that child out of me.

Less than one month later my first born was beginning school for the first time. We were embracing home schooling for the first time with a newborn under the roof, and life was so happily chaotic that I spent most of the year not even remembering I was 30.

But then my 31st birthday was suddenly around the corner, and I was forced to remember that I am no longer a 20-something.

We had a really busy family reunion weekend over this past weekend. I didn't even have time to think about my upcoming birthday. I came home yesterday evening to empty cupboards, a cluttered house, errands that couldn't be put off, and, of course, the dreaded chore of unpacking a car full of bags stuffed haphazardly. Then it also occurred to me that my license expired today. Woops. I had tried to renew it online, but they needed proof of an eye exam, so I couldn't. Then our busy weekend came up quickly, and I didn't get the chance to go in.

I had been looking forward to this license renewal for 4 years. That awful picture had been taken when I was 9 months pregnant with Chastity. My face literally looks swollen, my eyes just little slits barely able to open from the fatness of my cheeks. I was glad for the renewal, but 15 years after the only birthday where going to the DMV is exciting sort of put a damper on my mood.

So today, on my 31st birthday, I woke up and got around to run errands. In anticipation of the dreaded license photo, I even did my hair and make up. I raided my jewelry box and found several pieces I hadn't worn in years, just like brand new! Happy Birthday to me! I strolled into a moderately busy DMV and waited in line. When it was my turn, I handed them my ID and renewal papers, and said, "My license expires today, but I was unable to renew online." They streamlined me right through the process. No complaints there. But in NY state, licenses expire on your birthday. TWO different women looked directly at my ID, aware that it expires on this day, my birthday, and neither one wished me a happy birthday. I went on with my day with a 30 minute drive out to Lockport to pay for the pavilion we're renting for Isaac's 1st birthday coming up. That had to be done or they'd give it to someone else this week. Then I went out for groceries which had to be done, or we'd have to survive on cereal all week.

I had left the house in the morning before Isaac woke up, and returned just after he'd gone down for his nap. Elijah and Chastity were also about to go down for their naps. My birthday was half over, and all I had to show for it were some groceries.

I started to hit a wall and spin into a funk. So this is 31. Running errands, cleaning, taking care of everyone else. My birthdays are no longer about me. They are just about getting older.

To uplift my spirits, I began to think about one of my favorite things; ice cream. (Doesn't everyone do that?) The old Baskin Robbins slogan, boasting 31 flavors, hit me. I am 31 flavors (and then some). I am not just a wife and mother, or picker-upper-of-things. But my birthdays aren't supposed to be about me. They are about the life God has blessed me with, the person he's molded me into being, the husband he's joined me with always and forever, and the little people he's entrusted to me to help shape and mold. I am goofy, fun, sensitive, loving, kind, and helpful. I can be loud or quiet at times. I am athletic, active and energized, but marked with life's changes. I can be controversial and opinionated. I am creative and focused. I can be both disciplined or flaky; sloppy or trendy; brutally honest or quietly kind; clean and organized or a messy Marvin. I am confident in some things; insecure in others. I'm not afraid of hard work, dirt, and sweat, or a sexy little dress. I am prayerful, faithful, hopeful, and above all else; full of love for the Lord. The list goes on and on, and it's difficult for me to talk about myself like this, but I think it's emotionally mandatory. My boobs, my butt, my hips, my thighs will never be the same but those are not the things which make me.  I know who I am. I am so many different flavors, but not everyone's taste, and that's ok.

So this is 31; beautifully, chaotically, lovingly blessed with little and big people who know all my 31 flavors, prefer some over others, but ultimately love me wholly and unconditionally.

Today, in spite of the errands, the chores, and the unobservant DMV clerks, I am blessed. I am wrapped in love from Jelani's famous (really, it's famous!), homemade Buffalo chicken pizza, to the drawings from my littles to my very first phone call being from my very first, childhood friend. Your 31 flavors may look differently, but for me, this is 31.

I can smell the pizza in the oven, and my babies are waking from their naps. The journey must go on, and perhaps it will land us in the living room gathered around a Disney movie, but really, is that any different from any other distant year? Some things never change. :-)

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