Nothing really prepared me for the way my kids’ birthday celebrations change when they become young adults.
Those long eighteen years of child rearing are filled with “in the trenches” moments which flood the senses. Excitement, disappointment, joy, anger, and humor churn through a parent’s being in the course of any given day. Sometimes, it all feels overwhelming. However, we don’t realize that those days of planning parties eventually come to an end. Traditions take on new forms. And the unmistakeable “birthday energy” no longer floats in the air like balloons.
That change takes some adapting.
Recently, my daughter celebrated her twenty-second birthday. But this one was different. She wasn’t home. Neither was I on mine but perspectives change when you are in a different position. My mind replayed the moments of that day twenty two years ago. Because no matter how your child arrives to you, the memories find a landing spot in your brain.
I sat in all the feels in the midst of the sound of silence. And I pondered: how life flies by so much faster than I realized and what that means when sacred familiar celebrations in family life unfold differently than I once expected. I grieved the changes while recognizing that no outward celebration can alter what my children’s birthdays actually represent.
She was where she should be. Exploring the world outside our home. Isn’t that what any parent wishes for their kids? On the day, she was born, I had so many hopes for her. Along the way, she has learned that life here has it’s challenges. But there is also beauty, friendship, and dreams fulfilled.
So, I cling to gratefulness for her birthday, whether she is home or not. Because her life affects more than me. And, in the midst of the changing landscape of our home, I get a window seat to watch it unfold.