Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy New You!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the course of a year. It’s easy to take it for granted; to let a year slip through our existence while we’re busy paying bills or listening to NPR. Sometimes I feel like years are strewn on the side of the highway in the rear view of my drive to live. Perhaps I’m paying more attention to the clicks that make up a year right now because Miss M’s weekly development demands I notice changes. It got me thinking about how she started her life in the Fall. Her year begins with Halloween and then moves in to the holiday season. (I remember right before she was born, NR said to me it was a beautiful time of year for a birthday. It's so true - Fall is a poet crunching down some leafy lane in a J. Crew catalog). In my case, each year starts about three weeks after, um, the New Year. It’s ironic because in the course of my year, New Year’s Eve is actually at the end of it all. I always see the holiday as the end to a year instead of a beginning. I asked a few people if they ever view the year through this type of lens, starting with their birthday rather than what society has deemed the definitive flipping of the calendar. A general "no" was the consensus followed by a feigned interest in my theory. So I figured I should blog about it...

Perhaps because my birthday falls so closely after the New Year, it’s easy to adjust the beginning of a year to my birthday (and slightly self indulgent). My years are therefore pretty much in line with tradition (barring the usual New Year's philosophy).

I read my birthday post to the year ahead in 2010 and I feel I was no more knowledgeable than the girl in the photo. Now a lifetime has passed. That is how much has changed this lap around the sun. And I believe it was a good year; even though it kicked my ass.

Looking back, it surprises me to think about how plentiful my innocence was as I entered in to the responsibility of having a kid. Everything fell so easily in line. I got pregnant in January, told my husband on our first anniversary in February. Sheepishly told my dad, not really believing the reality of it all would come to pass (he assured me everything would be fine). I spent the next month truly digesting the news and getting used to the new mountain I had begun to climb. I watched my hormones take the reigns over my mind. I rode the waves and apologized afterwards. I spent the summer riding my bike, easing my stress levels at work, and watching my belly grow. I caught happy hour, art night, and book club as often as I could and all the while realizing subtle changes were happening before the baby was even here. I revisited my dad with D and the belly. In a yellow bikini, I walked the beach in the hot humid Florida summer I knew so well from my childhood. I spent the Fall getting the Bird's room ready. I realized how powerful women can be on a whole new level. I felt the excited support of friends and family alike. I believed I still had control over everything if I thought through it hard enough. I learned how a tidal wave looked and felt. I ran for higher ground, found something that floated, and called for help. The wide net of friends caught me when I couldn’t catch myself. I lost my anchor... and then... I found my sail. I’ve never felt more love in my life. My heart swelled for D, my heart swelled for M, my heart swelled. So much so that perhaps my polar ice caps melted a bit. There was a definitive shift. A crack; and light was shining through. I straightened my back and stood tall. I became the project manager. I began building the memories my daughter would carry through her life. The last hour of New Years Eve came alone at a keyboard for the first time in months. It felt like returning home after a journey of a thousand miles. I had two weeks left to say goodbye to this ball of energy called 34.

Welcome 35. Can you believe just a few days ago I was scared to even call you by name? But I’m too old for that anymore. Perhaps it’s because I'm busy focusing on the moment in the hour in the day in the week in the month of the year. The irony is that it all seems so much faster than the painstaking slowness of youth when I was busy earning each new candle on a cake. In any case, I welcome what is to come. I'm sure it will bring the surprise of things I can’t even imagine and lessons I have somehow escaped thus far.

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