My birthday is perilously close to Mother’s Day, which means I only get one cake. On the bright side, the kids never forget my birthday because every store window reminds them to get something for their Mom.
This year had a different feel to it; and when things have been pretty much the same for twenty years, (to quote Groundhog day): “Different is good.”
My birthday landed on a Thursday–a non-Crossfit day–which meant no birthday burpees for me. Instead, I took the kids to Wurzburg to my favorite Thai food place and afterwards for the best coffee (at a nondescript little hole in the wall) and ice cream in Germany. Interestingly, both places are run by Italians. I’m thankful they brought their beans and gelato north of the Alps.
The difference this year was that there was no spouse to take pictures of me with the kids. It was a strange feeling.
As we walked through the palace garden, it was hard to watch couples strolling along holding hands, or to see a kid riding on his dad’s shoulders. You start to ask “Why can’t we have that?”
Why do I only have a strong espresso in my hand where fingers should be laced?
But questions that don’t have answers only set you down the road to self-pity–not a good place to go.
It’s far more productive to be thankful: for the unique individuals I call my offspring; for the laughter; for the coffee; for the ability to walk and run and lift heavy.
I’m even thankful for the trials because they are forcing me to become the person I want to be.
But I don’t want you to get the wrong impression: my life is not The Notebook (which, for the record, I only saw once and could not stand it).
My life comes with tears that work my abs and moments where I have to pull the car over because my sweet little family is unraveling in the rear view mirror.
I have come to understand that my life ‘before’ wasn’t life at all–it was existence. I did not have some incredibly amazing passionate marriage in which my partner suddenly had medical problems, and I, as the ever-loving, patient wife would care for him and see him through. The hard reality is that things had been messed up for a long time; and I though I wanted things to be better, I was smart enough to have already begun the long journey towards independence, well before the medical problems complicated matters.
I AM a Taurus, which means when something isn’t working, you either fix it perfectly or smash it all to hell and start over.
That stubbornness, a quality I had loved about myself, had been covered with twenty years of dust before Crossfit came along to clean house.
I’m thankful it did.
I’m starting to figure out what kind of person I really am–even though I sometimes don’t like what I see. I want to be like ‘good’ people–you know, the ones who always seem happy.
My kids are feeling this too. My youngest and I were talking about how ‘different’ we feel these days–and how it’s almost painful to be around ‘good’ families. I guess part of this whole process is discovering the joy of being a family exactly like ours: figuring out how WE roll and not comparing ourselves to others and sure as hell not WANTING to be like other families.
Our scars show that we’ve been actively engaged in life, not merely witnessing it from a protective bubble.
Different is scary.
But different can be good.
So, we press on, move forward, and scrawl out the first word of the first chapter of this new life.