Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

It was your birthday yesterday.

When you woke up in the morning (to the loving sound of your sister singing ‘Happy Birthday’ at the top of her lungs from the bottom of the stairs) you were still seven, but a couple of hours later you officially turned eight.

Your teacher emailed me to say the class sang ‎to you at exactly 9:11am (the time you were born) and I knew you would get a kick out of that. For all of your easy-going ways, you still appreciate the clarity that comes from precision.

I got to drop you at school, something that almost never happens. You took my hand as we walked down the stairs at the back of the school yard and chatted away about something I no longer remember. Truth be told I wasn’t listening very closely; I was too busy looking at you and wondering how it’s possible for eight years to seemingly pass in the blink of an eye.

As we neared the corner where we would turn into your play yard you slipped your hand out from mine and started to run ahead, eager to see your friends, your baseball glove and tennis ball at the ready.

A glimpse.

I wonder how much longer you will let me hold your hand ‘in public.’

I wonder how much longer you will let me kiss your cheek and smooth your hair and cheer (embarrassingly) loudly for you from the stands of a hockey arena or baseball diamond.

Your older sister has taught me that these things are fleeting, only lasting a definite period of time, based on a timeline that I can neither predict nor change.

One day you will do what you have always done, and the next day you will not. You won’t even realize the change, but I will. A line will be drawn in the sand between then and now and I won’t fully realize how much I miss ‘then’ until I can no longer go back.

We went out for dinner last night and you brought along two friends from your hockey team. The three of you sat across the table from me, still young enough to have little plastic lids on your drinks but old enough to order for yourselves and go to the washroom together chuckling the whole time about a joke I probably wouldn’t understand.

You chatted with your aunt on the phone, at one point telling her you were out for dinner and “had two buddies” with you.


Not friends, but buddies.

For some reason the way you said it gave me pause.

You now have buddies.

All of a sudden I could see you at 16, you and your ‘buddies’ coming through my front door, in the house only long enough to empty my fridge and grab some sporting equipment from the garage before jumping in the back of someone’s car and being off again. I can almost feel the words ‘drive safely’ and ‘wear your seatbelts’ caught in my throat.

‎I try to reassure myself that there is time, so much time between now and then, years and years to get used to a new normal.

And then I realize how quickly the last eight years have gone and say a silent prayer that the next eight pass just a little slower.

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‎I woke you up by singing ‘Happy Birthday’ in your ear. I could tell you weren’t all that impressed but a tiny bit of you, just enough of you, still thought it was amusing and let me continue through to the end.


Every year when you become another, even bigger number, I’m somehow surprised, like I didn’t see it coming. I don’t know why but every year it happens and every year I’m surprised.

This year I can’t seem to tie my thoughts into a neat bow. For some reason this year I’m not looking back at what has come before but am instead squinting my eyes tightly hoping for just a glimpse of what is coming in the road ahead, just a glimpse so I can prepare myself.

To be completely honest, I’m a little fearful of what is to come. Not because I think you are going to change into someone I can’t recognize, but rather because I don’t trust myself to be the person you need me to be while you figure out all the things you have to figure out.

Not unlike when you were born, I have a gnawing feeling in the back of my brain that I am sorely prepared for what is coming; a feeling that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing and that ultimately it will be you who ends up paying the price.

But I try. I try to temper all of that with my ‎ongoing attempt to live without expectations. When the thoughts come to me, as I lay my head down at night or come awake in the morning, I try to wipe them like chalk words on a blackboard. I don’t know what is to come, there is no way to know what is coming, and I will deal with it, you and I will deal with it, just as we have done for the past eleven years.

You and I.


Happy birthday Sweets.

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Of course I remember the moment you were born, how could I ever forget it?  But, to be perfectly honest, I don’t really feel like the moment you were born was the moment I first met you, if that makes any sense at all.  The moment you were born the room was filled with a whole bunch of people, even more than usual perhaps, because you were being somewhat stubborn about your entry into the world.  I now know it was just a sign of things to come, that stubborn personality of yours that you inherited directly from me.

The room was filled with people and machines and lights and it just felt very busy.  They put you on my chest and I cried and your dad cried and we took pictures and they did all the things they have to do with you right in the beginning.  I remember feeling like I was in a daze, not sure what was going on but sure that I was supposed to be remembering it all, taking it all in, so I could tell you about it one day.

The first few hours were all about letting everyone know about you, that you had arrived, safe and sound, that you were a perfect little girl and the name we had given you.  It was about trying to track down your grandfather at the airport after a frantic, red-eye flight in from the West Coast when you decided to come just a little bit earlier than expected.  It was about everyone else getting to see you and kiss you and hold you, and I sort of felt as though I was at a distance.

Then they wheeled us into what would be our room for the next 24 hours and suddenly we were all alone, you and I.  I remember all of a sudden it seemed so quiet and so still and you looked so small wrapped up in that blanket with only your face showing.  I gingerly propped myself up on the pillow, easier said than done now that the medication was wearing off, and pulled your bassinet closer to the bed so I could reach you.

I kept expecting someone to come in and tell me I wasn’t allowed.  That I wasn’t allowed to take you out of there, that I wasn’t allowed to touch you, but then I realized that I was allowed, that you were mine and I was yours.  It seemed to take me hours to get you out of there, between my sore body and your seeming fragility I moved about one inch every minute, so afraid something would happen to you.  Finally I pulled you in close and lifted my feet back on the bed, laying back on the pillow and feeling the full weight of you in my arms for the very first time.

I gently unwrapped the blanket, it suddenly seemed very important that I look at all of you, not just your tiny face.  I looked at your toes, your feet and legs still curled up so tight.  I ran my fingers along your chest, feeling your heart beat under my hand for the first time.  I held your fingers, examined your tiny finger nails and pulled off your hat to see all of your beautiful dark hair.

And it was there, in those five minutes, hours and hours after you actually entered the world that I felt like you and I met for the first time. There in the silence of the hospital room while the world continued on just on the other side of a thin curtain, you were now all that mattered.  A little piece of me and a little piece of your dad and a whole lot of the amazing person you were going to become.

It’s now ten years later.  I don’t know how it’s happened but it has, and you are now so far from that little baby that I can hardly understand you are the same person.  But then I look into those huge brown eyes and run my fingers through your thick brown hair and I’m taken back to that room, in that bed, when it was just you and I.  I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, or how I ever got lucky enough to become your mom, and ten years later I feel essentially the same way.

And while the first ten years seemed to be very much about keeping you safe and teaching you some of the things you need to know, I kind of feel like the next ten are going to be more about me getting out of your way.  Me realizing that you are very much your own person now and it’s time for me to do less teaching and more watching, less directing and more appreciating, less questioning and more understanding.

We somehow managed to make it to this point, although I definitely had my doubts some days.  It’s a good thing you finally learned how to sleep for longer than 20 minutes at a time or I’m not so sure either one of us would still be here!  Between then and now there have been a million moments that I wish I could remember.  I wish I could pull them out of my pocket one at a time and examine them in my arms, like I did with you on your very first day.

But because I can’t, I will just take a moment to cherish you, as you are now, and for all of the million moments you have given me since that very first one.

I can only hope that the next million are going to be just as amazing.

Happy birthday baby girl.

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Because she taught me not to apologize for who I am.

Because whenever I’m around her, we laugh louder than I ever thought possible, and I don’t even realize it until someone leans over to tell us to keep it down.

Because I don’t have to explain myself to her; I don’t have to give the background or the context.  She gets it because she gets me.

Because she doesn’t realize how a room changes when she walks into it; how everyone is instantly drawn to her.

Because she cheers me on when I need it; and calls me on my shit when I need that too.

Because sometimes I still feel like she’s too cool to be friends with someone like me, but I know she doesn’t think so.

Because she believes I am better than I have ever believed myself to be.

Because she knows that accessories don’t make the outfit, accessories are the outfit.

Because she remembers things I said long after I forget ever saying them.

Because no matter how exhausted she is from taking care of a feisty little girl, she always has time to listen, to answer a text, to reply to a message, to pay attention.

Because she never lets me off the hook.

Because whenever I tell her Jann Arden is coming to town, her response is always “are you getting the tickets, or am I?” even though we’ve already seen her a dozen times.

Because she knows the four best places in the entire world are the library, Michaels, Chapters and Shoppers Drug Mart.

Because she believes in the power of red lipstick.

Because she admits to watching the Kardashians.

Because she sends me little gifts in the mail when I’m feeling down.

Because she makes me want to do great things; and makes me believe that I actually can.

Because she has changed almost everything about her life and yet still stays true to who she is.

Because she knows that celebrity gossip is just as important as world events.

Because she reads amazing books and then tells me about them.

Because she understands the healing power of a cup of tea; and the important role that chocolate should play in everyone’s life.

Because she is an amazing mother who makes no apologies for talking about how hard it is.

Because I can’t ever imagine a day when we will run out of things to talk about.

Because she doesn’t try to smooth over the rough stuff; instead she reaches out her hand and tells me we’ll get through it together.

Because I know she will cry a little when she reads this.

Because I can’t imagine who I would be without her.

Because even though we were born two weeks and hundreds of miles apart, sometimes it feels as though she is the other half of me.

Because she is the best.

Because today is her birthday.

Because I’m thousands of miles away and can’t give her a birthday hug so for now these words will have to do.

Happy birthday my bosom friend.

Because you are special to me every single day; today just seemed like a good day to make sure you know it.

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You came into the world quickly and quietly, with minimal fuss, two weeks earlier than expected. We thought we were ready but in reality, we were not ready at all. The bag wasn’t packed, I had only finished working a few days before, and our new van, purchased specifically for your arrival, was in the shop.

I packed a bag for your sister while having contractions and managed to somehow forget her shoes. We dropped her at grandma’s house just as the sun came up and made our way to the hospital.

And shortly thereafter, you arrived, into the world and into our family. You broke into our hearts not with loud screams and willful ways, but rather with quiet smiles and a few bats of those amazing eye lashes.

I’ll be honest, I was afraid.

I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it again, afraid that the love for another would not be the same as the first. Of course I didn’t need to be scared, and here we are, six years later, still proving that we could do it again and that while no two kinds of love are the same, that doesn’t make them unequal.

You taught me, even from that very first day, that plans are made to be broken and not everything in life can be scheduled. If becoming a mother the first time was about expectations, doing it for the second time was about acceptance. The first time was about holding on, the second time was about letting go.

You taught me to give myself a break, and that it really didn’t matter which kid had the most baby pictures in the photo albums. You taught me to appreciate the moments because, no matter how much I wish otherwise, my baby is not a baby for very long.

I am amazed by your kindness and your gentle spirit. You reach out to hold my hand when we walk, and more and more I am realizing that you do it not because you want, but rather because you know I do.

I see you trying to be strong and brave, a big boy turning into a little man. But I also see the times it all gets to be too much. The times you go and find your blanket and come to me, asking to cuddle. I fear for the days when you no longer seek me out, asking for a hug and a story. I know those days will come and so I cherish these, tucking them away in my heart to be brought out and relived in the coming years.
You turned six today and went off to school wearing a little button that proclaimed you to be the “Birthday Boy.” You are so excited to finally be old enough to sleep on the top bunk, to ride a scooter, to stay up late on weekends.

I see you rushing forward, eyes wide at all that life will bring and so I will encourage you to go, to take it all in, to experience everything you dream of and so much more.
And when you need me, I will be right here behind you, whenever you need a cuddle.

Happy birthday, Bud Bud. I love you.

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My baby turns nine today.

I know in my heart she will always be my baby but one of these days she’s probably going to get embarrassed and groan when I say it. For now I’m thankful that she usually just smiles shyly and gives me a hug.

It’s so cliche but I don’t really know where the time has gone. When I try and think of the distance between where we were then and where we are now, memories, snapshots of a hundred different moments come flooding through my mind, and yet I still can’t believe it’s been that long.

My thoughts are a jumble. I waiver between nostalgia and tears; fear and appreciation; wonder and anxiety, seemingly unable to focus on any one emotion for longer than a moment. Until I had kids I never realized I would be so emotionally invested in someone else’s birthday.

Especially hers.

Because the day she was born is also the day I went from being a woman to being a mom; went from caring about myself to thinking so completely about another person; went from the idea of what motherhood would be to the reality of what it really is.

The older she gets the easier and also the harder it gets. I feel like I have an ever-growing list of things I’m supposed to teach her and I’m barely scratching the surface. And as I watch her grow into an amazing person I marvel at how much she has learned all on her own, with no help from me at all.

It is becoming less about daily tasks and more about ‘the big picture’ and I realize that as time-consuming as they were, the daily tasks were actually easier. I know how to change diapers, give baths, brush hair, make snacks, pack backpacks. These tasks are nothing when faced with having to show her how to have self-esteem, how to dream, how to find inspiration, how to be her own person. How do I teach her things that I still struggle with myself?

But I am also slowly grasping the fact that as much as she is my student, I am also hers and she has already taught me so much. In nine short years she has shown me so much about myself and the world, so much more than I could ever imagine.

So on her birthday I will give her a hug and probably shed a tear for the baby she no longer is. But I will also stand back and marvel at what she is becoming and will feel proud, for just a moment, for the small part I have played. And I will be excited and thankful for everything she has brought to my life.

Happy Birthday, my baby.

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my friend

We met by chance on a VIA Train heading from Ottawa to Toronto. We were both getting off at stops before Toronto so we ended up on the same car. As luck would have it there was an empty seat beside me and she politely asked if it was taken. It wasn’t, and invited her to sit down. We did that thing where we looked at each other, trying to place where we knew the face. We went to the same university, were in the same program, had a couple of classes together. We exchanged pleasantries and settled in for our long trip.

It could have ended there. It could have been but a single moment in our lives, quickly lived and then just as quickly forgotten. Instead, for some reason, unknown at the time, it turned out to be not an ending, but a beginning.

That was, if I can do the math correctly, just over 16 years ago, in October 1996. So much of our lives have been lived since then and, because of that chance meeting, so much of it has been lived side by side.

She is my friend.

Today is her birthday.

It amazes me how some friendships start, like an ember burst from nothing, and continue to burn, seemingly without end. I don’t know what brought us together that day, on that train, but some larger force knew that I needed her in my life, then and now.

She is, without a doubt, the best person I know. She is the kind of person who you can call in the middle of the night, no matter how late, no matter if she just went to bed half an hour before and has to get up two hours later. She will answer your call, convince you that no, you didn’t wake her up and yes, of course she has some time to talk. She will listen to your problems. She will probably even ask if she should come over. Do you need a hug? Can I bring you a cup of tea. She is that person. If there is a bed and a couch, she will insist that you take the bed and make it seem utterly absurd that you would even consider the alternative.

I don’t think I could ever be that person. I think mean things about people and I’m not very good at hiding them. I’m moody and sarcastic and if I don’t like you, you probably already know it. However, the mere fact that she sees fit to be my friend makes me feel like maybe there’s hope for me.

I don’t know a single person in the world who has met my friend and doesn’t love her, almost instantly. She is the kind of person who greets you with a hug and tells you that you look great. And she means it; she really does. And because she says it in such an honest way, she makes you believe it too, even if you’re dressed in sweats with your hair in a ponytail and wearing no makeup. She thinks you look great, and you believe her, because she would never lie to you.

She is the most trusting person I know. Her openness and willingness to throw herself out there have always amazed me. She has written a novel; and has actually let people read it. She has run a marathon. She has weathered storms in her life and continues to get back out there, continues to try, continues to find the best in people and, in turn, they seem to give it to her. She is the kind of person you don’t want to disappoint.

She has amazing taste in books and desserts. She is always accessorized to perfection, is a wonderful cook and is the most patient and loving mother I have ever seen. She is perfect in her imperfections. She never makes me feel like there’s anything wrong with me (which, at times, there definitely is) and she never acts like she is a better person than me (which, as outlined above, she usually is). She is funny and witty and makes it all seem easy, although I know it’s not. She has struggles and difficulties and problems just like everyone else and she is not afraid to share them, to admit she doesn’t always know the answers and that makes her real, and human, and accessible.

She is a better friend than I probably deserve, and I consider her a gift. A gift from someone out there who knew that I need her in my life; that I need her there as an example of how to treat people, how to find kindness and joy in life and how to be a better person. She allows me to be her friend, and not just in name, she lets me earn it. She asks me for help and listens when I offer it. Some friendships travel through time without tests, without work, without earning their keep. Our friendship expects more from us. It expects phone calls, cups of tea, glasses of wine and legs folded on couches. We have talked through the problems of the world together and made them better for no other reason than because it confirmed that we are not alone.

We are a long way from being those two girls, forced together by a chance meeting on that train. We both now have husbands and kids, responsibilities and jobs, houses and to-do lists that are way longer than we can ever actually tackle in one lifetime. We have said many goodbyes since then, to relatives and loves, and also to dreams and expectations of what we thought our lives would be like.

But we are still friends. We have seen each other through a lot in the past 16 years and I have leaned on our friendship more times than I can count. And each time I have needed it, it has been there. No matter how much time has past, no matter how much it has been neglected due to busy schedules and conflicting calendars; it has remained. Willing and able to jump up when it is needed, to provide the support and strength that is lacking and then to settle back, a constant.

I don’t know what I have done to deserve a friend like her but I appreciate and never take for granted all that she has brought to my life. And today, on her birthday, I struggle to know what to give her to show her all that she means. It’s not something that can be wrapped in a box and tied up with a ribbon, although she deserves that and so much more.

And so instead I give these words, in the hopes that today of all days she will read them and realize she is special, and loved and thought of, not just today but every day of our friendship.

Happy birthday my dear friend. I don’t know what I would do without you.

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