I recently celebrated another birthday. Unlike its predecessors, I was not excited for this one. Maybe it’s that I had a baby last year and with less sleep, less free time and a 24-hour human child to keep alive these days, I actually forgot that my birthday was coming up. Perhaps an additional year just reminded me how my youth is behind me. Or maybe it’s that I’m inches from 40, an age that always seemed, well, for old people.
My husband took me out for a birthday dinner. As I blew out a candle on a delicious slice of tiramisu, I realized that the things I wished for were quite different than in previous birthday candle blowout wishes. 38 is a much different place than 28, but here I am. And here’s what I wished for:
1. Sleep. A precious commodity that I’m willing to do just about anything for, more sleep is what I need. The baby keeps things interesting in terms of whether a night will bring peaceful shut eye of 6-7 hours or a round-the-clock guessing game as to whether the baby is teething, has a stomach bug, has choked on something, is suffocating, has a poop, is too hot or too cold or is just angry to be alive. I wished for more sleep, restful moments throughout the day and a weekend nap every now and then.
2. To always be thankful for the great things in my life. After I’ve had my nap, I will wish to stop always complaining about the 50 things that annoyed me that day, and to open my eyes to all the magic stuff that’s there too. That includes my handsome husband, my beautiful baby girl and the rest of my family. It also includes my long standing friendships and the close ties I’ve made with new friends this past year as a new mom.
3. To figure out how the heck to cook something other than toast and not poison anyone. I don’t wish to become a regular chef, but learning how to make a casserole or a healthy chicken dish would be a good start. This past year has been filled with too many take out / delivery meals that cause overeating, weight gain and a way too large credit card statement.
4. To have motivation to hit the gym again. Somewhere in my 20s, the gym and I were friends. I could pop on a treadmill without thinking and easily kill 4 miles several times a week. These days, I have to plan days in advance for a gym trip and rarely succeed. It’s a workout by itself to make it to the gym. These days, a workout requires securing childcare, removing myself from our couch after a long day’s work, getting the baby to sleep, changing into workout clothes, searching frantically for my running shoes and then talking myself out of ordering in Thai food. It’s either that or a 4:45 AM wake up, which isn’t happening.
5. That my daughter doesn’t hate me for going back to work. Because seeing her amazingly happy little face smile at me every morning while I put on my coat and finish packing up my bag nearly breaks my heart. “What am I going to miss THIS day?” I ask myself every workday morning. Then she waves her little arm at me and blows me a kiss. I die a little. Every. Single. Time. She doesn’t seem to mind yet that I’m disappearing for long pockets of days, but one day soon, she’ll understand. I wish every day that she’s not mad at me and that she’ll never feel like she’s missing out on getting all the mom time she needs.
6. That the two glasses of wine I had at dinner won’t give me a hangover the next day. Because that’s what happens in your late 30s, people!
7. That our 11th nanny in 6 months works out. Because unlike my 20s, when things like finding another stranger to entrust with your most cherished human being (your innocent baby), could not be fathomed, the time has arrived when the hiring and firing of nannies has become a regular occurrence. It is not a fun thing to do and I hope you never have to worry about the safety, happiness and care of your child with another human.
8. That vanity will not rule my entire life. Because things like varicose veins, wrinkles, extra baby weight even when the pregnancy is like “years” over, etc. are a fact of life and should not be allowed to bring a person down.
9. Date night. Because I still majorly have a crush on my husband and I’d like to keep it that way. He’s tall and he’s dreamy and even though we’re up to our neck in dirty diapers and chasing a speedy crawling toddler around constantly, I still need time for the two of us.
10. Fertility. Unlike most of my friends getting pregnant in their 20s, it’s not as easy for many of us late 30-somethings. I hope that my body is still up for the challenge if and when we decide to go for another little miracle.
11. That my dog knows that I still love him. Because I do love that little furry guy like nothing else. And he was my entire world before the baby came along. He definitely gets jealous and feels a tad depressed, but I hope he knows that he’s still my first baby.
12. Health. For my family. For my baby. For myself. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve valued being healthy through my own health scares and the health scares of those around me. As a new generation has entered our family, I am well aware that my parents and in laws have been bumped up a generation. I wish for their continued health constantly. I’m also very insistent on being around to bring on the S’Motherload of love to my baby girl. Which makes me more than a bit paranoid about my health. While blowing out those candles, I wished that the mole suddenly appearing on my scalp out of nowhere is nothing. That I will go to the dermatologist to check it out but fiercely pray that it’s a non-issue. I wish for the health of my baby, because when she is sick, I feel sick – that’s just a fact of being a mother. You may no longer be sharing one body after you’re pregnant, but you never stop feeling like one.
13. That my hair will grow back. My hair was coming out in clumps after having our baby. Each shampoo cycle in the shower brought out more and more hair to the point where I wondered if there would be any left. The doctor said it was normal and part of a hormone shift after pregnancy. Then I thought of a close friend of mine who recently lost her hair due to chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. I will change this birthday wish and give it to her – I wish that her hair grows back because she has kicked cancer’s ass!