In the school where I teach, we love to celebrate birthdays. Children bring in little trays of cookies or cupcakes to share with classmates, and the whole day feels special for everyone. They like to bring their treats around the building, giving one to the principal, the counselor, the nurse and all of the teachers that they have had in the past. Everyone gets a chance to hug the birthday girl or boy.
Some classrooms have little crowns or special pins that kids wear on their birthdays. Some teachers give out “happy birthday” pencils or erasers. We even have our own school “birthday song”, a tradition going back almost 40 years to when we opened our doors for the first time.
Today was a special birthday celebration in my life; twenty six years ago today, at 4:35 AM on a bitter cold Saturday, I became a Mom for the very first time, and my deepest dream was fulfilled. Twenty six years ago, I understood what it means to really honestly love another human being more life itself. WAY more. Twenty six years ago, everything changed, and I took the first step on the winding, twisting, exhilarating road of parenthood. It was the best day of my life.
All day today, in school, I kept thinking of my baby. How tiny she was, how fragile. How big and bright her eyes were, wide open and locked on mine from our first introduction. I wanted her to have birthday treats, and songs! I wanted her to wear a sparkly crown and have the other kids crowd around her to see her new pencil.
I spent the day surrounded by happy and smiling children, and I wanted so much for mine to be one of them.
What made the day so strangely sweet is that I did get to see my baby girl today; I saw her when we were both on lunch break, and she was in HER classroom, right down the hall from mine! She showed me the homemade earrings, the funny penlight and the scarf that the “other kids” gave her. She gave me one of her healthy and delicious birthday muffins, given to her by one of the kids. We laughed and hugged and I told her I love her.
Then I headed back to my classroom to get ready for the afternoon. All the way through the halls, my mind kept shifting and shuffling, trying to make sense of the dual images that it held. The beautiful baby girl and the beautiful young woman, both the same person. I had to laugh at the realization that I find myself in the very surreal situation of having given birth to a colleague!
On and on, life keeps whirling, and we keep moving to new places within in. Life is strange. Strangely sweet at times, like today.
Happy Birthday, Miss Kate!