April in Glenwood: Still thankful for birthdays
Last week, I celebrated another 525,600 minutes on this planet. This is a feat worth noting.
I believe my life flashed before my eyes on more than one occasion in 2015.
The stomach virus that nearly ruined Christmas was a doozie. There was the surprise breech baby birth requiring an emergency c-section with a blood transfusion to follow. And, three weeks later, a post-natal surgery that has likely landed in me in a medical book of world records somewhere.
I’ll skip the details.
As eventful as the last 8,760-plus hours have been, they’ve combined to make for the best year of my life. Motherhood changed me beyond any terms to describe it, outside of awesome. That six-letter word, defined as “extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension or fear,” pretty much sums it up for me.
Children have that effect.
In the last nine months since Will was born, I’ve become someone I never thought I would — a baby person. I was always the free-spirited, auntie-type to my friends’ kids. I would hold and play with them until I easily handed them back to their parents and went on my merry, single-girl way. I never changed their diapers, rocked them to sleep while they were teething, or woke in the middle of the night for feedings. I just did the fun part of making them laugh, which seemed so easy I thought having one of my own would be no big deal.
Insert the canned laughter.
Parenthood is everything I wanted and never expected. I imagine on April 20, 2017, I’ll be thinking how it’s still extremely impressive or daunting. I’ll have those feelings of great admiration, apprehension and fear, all at once. They will stay with me all the years of my life. I’ll especially have them when Will turns 16.
Daunting sounds about right.
Although I wouldn’t mind being 16 myself for a day — the ’80s were as fun as MTV videos made them out to be, especially my favorites from Prince and Cyndi Lauper — I like my 40s. All those women’s magazines that speak to finding a sense of self at my age are actually accurate. Sure, I could stand to lose some baby weight. But fitting into skinny jeans is low priority. And wearing a bikini instead of a tankini is hardly on my mind, unless I need some comic relief.
Funny how priorities, and swimwear, change as we age.
Every birthday offers a chance to revisit the last 31,536 million seconds of our lives. Some tick by slower than a sloth in a tree, and we wish them away as we look to the future. I do that when I anticipate seeing Colorado friends again, or when I think about paying off bills. Like the message in an Oprah speech, I must remind myself to be in the moment. To enjoy every second of the present.
It’s often easier to be stuck in the past.
Even though I’m miles away, I think about Colorado often. I carry my Rocky Mountain memories with me like a doting mom’s pocketbook of photos in her purse she shows off to anyone who asks about her kids. Any scary moment I had living in the mountains made me who I am today. Maybe it was rafting through Shoshone when the Colorado River surged at 10,000cfs. Or inching along the narrow ridge called Devil’s Causeway in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area on my hands and knees.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was life testing my strength.
Those moments would help me later approach fear with resolve, and be strong when I needed it the most. Like when Will was coming early last July with little time to spare as they prepped me for emergency surgery, and I somehow remained calm. Or the hour it took to drive him from the hospital after spending the first nine weeks of his life there, growing strong enough to come home.
In retrospect, that Devil’s Causeway hike was a cake walk.
That’s the beauty of living in a place that feels, and looks, like paradise. It provides a gracious perspective. With every birthday, I’m thankful for the beautiful experiences that comprise my memories, no matter which physical location I’ve landed. I know I can always come back to that magical valley in the mountains, and many of my close friends and eccentric colleagues will be there for us to reunite. It will be as if time has stood still. Except next time I return, I’ll bring along a new collection of adventures.
And a year of exciting memories, including a baby, to share.
April E. Clark still has her mind on Prince. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.