31

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May 7, 2017 by Heather

Dear Heather,

Today is your birthday!  You are 31.  Last year you turned 30 (obviously), and that was a big deal, but turning 30 is also very cute and fun, very “thirty flirty and thriving” and such.  But now you are “in your thirties,” and for the first time, you actually feel a little older on your birthday — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just something you are aware of there in the back of your mind.  You’re still very young, but not quite a spring chicken anymore.  More like a mother hen, if we want to keep with the poultry analogy.

Your favorite foods are all of them, and you are sleeping through the night really well.  Your hair has grown pretty long this year, and if I’m really being honest, you’ve gained a bit of weight, but I know you’re working on that, um, situation.  Those anxiety meds last fall did a number on your metabolism, but it’s alright.  You still look good, girl, and you are strong and healthy.  You ran a half marathon just a few months ago while in truly terrible shape.  I’m not sure how you did it, but somehow you managed.  Don’t get down about the extra lbs,  Exercise to be healthy and eat to fuel yourself.  You’re doing a great job.

You just finished another semester of graduate school!  You started 3 years ago, and you’ll finish a year from now.  Babies and life have made it a slow climb, but you are chipping away at it.  Much to your surprise, and probably the surprise of others, you’re doing quite well!  Somehow you’ve managed to keep a 4.0 while also juggling babies (not literally) and a husband and work and life.  You doubt yourself, but girl, you’ve got this.  I’m proud of you.  Someday you’ll look back and wonder how the heck you pulled it off.

You’ll celebrate 9 years of marriage this month, wowza!  Your marriage to Andrew, though definitly not perfect, is thriving.  You have both settled into your roles as parents and spouses who crave alone time, which is not an easy balance to strike.  You make each other laugh and you work together as a team.  You support each other and carry one another’s burdens.  He folds the laundry; you put it away (most of the time).  He does the cat litter; you dust (meh).  He is working on his dissertation and is just so brilliant, ambitious, and incredibly determined.  His favorite thing to do right now is go fishing.  You are really proud of him.  You tend to take him for granted, though.  Let’s try not to do that so much.

Motherhood is your life’s greatest joy and struggle all rolled into two cute little boys.  They drive you crazy, I mean that literally.  Your mental health has literally suffered at the hands of your beloved offspring.  Somedays you imagine crawling out the kitchen window and strolling off across the field behind your house.  Maybe just keep walking for a few days.  You need Wide Open Spaces, like the Dixie Chicks.  In the afternoons you sometimes hide behind the fridge and eat cereal and take deep breaths.

You often wonder if it is as hard for other moms as it is for you.  You have a super fun, wonderful mix of depression, anxiety, creativity, and introversion that has made totally loving motherhood a challenge, something you never expected it to be.  No one tells you these things.  Why is that?

However, you also sometimes wonder if it is possible to come completely undone by how much love you feel for those wild and crazy boys.  You look at your almost-5-year-old and still see him wiggling and screaming in that tiny Tupperware tub on the table next to your hospital bed after his excruciating birth, getting his first bath from the nurse while you drink Sprite from a straw, wondering what in the actual hell just happened.  You watch your almost-2-year-old wave “bye bye!” and blow you a kiss as he pretends to open the front door and leave, and your mind flashes to the fact that someday he will say that and get in a car headed off to college, or perhaps the circus or zoo based on his current disposition.  These things rip you apart and you feel actual chest pains.  You cry all the time.  It’s ok, it’s just become a thing you do now.  Other mothers tell you to get used to it.

You are doing a great job.  It’s hard because it’s hard.  Hang in there.  Be present.  Don’t get stressed about soaking up every moment or seizing everyday.  Play, laugh, dance, cry, feel, love, be.  Your house will be clean someday, I promise.  These really are the days you’ll miss most, but don’t let knowing that stress you out.  I know you’re enjoying them.  Some days are just hard.  That’s what baths, runs, shower cries, sisters, and Jesus are for.  Also Pizza Hut.

This year is going to be so good.  Happy Birthday, you crazy lady.

Love,

Yourself

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