I've noticed in recent years that when one of my young adult children has a birthday I feel torn between many conflicting emotions. I want to share in the celebration of them and their achievements. I like using the birthday as a marker, a touchstone to reflect on what's been and what might be ahead in the coming year. Yet, overwhelmingly at the same time, it's a reminder of another year gone, a reminder of what life was like when they were young and a reminder that I'm also a year older. This challenges who I am and it makes me older too. It makes my life seem somehow more precious yet increasingly less relevant as they become more and more independent.
I'm reminded too of their birth and the early years of their lives - the fun we had planning their birthday parties weeks ahead. The planning, shopping and cooking, especially the special birthday cake, deciding how many kids to invite and whether there would be a theme. It was a marker then as it is now of just how much they had grown and changed in the year. What interests they had maintained and which ones they'd left behind. Which friends had continued their journey with them and which ones had been left behind. They were fun times and each year seemed to arrive faster than the year before. It was special to make a day each year that was all about them as a person, to spoil them and to make sure they felt important and loved by those around them.
I'm sure they still feel that way on their birthday as they now have their own parties with their friends as well as find a way to include me in their celebrations. I know I'm there, I'll always be there, but just not in the centre point anymore. That's how it's meant to be as they grow and create their own worlds. It's hard as a mum to let that go while still being there when they need me and to develop my own life as well when they've been such a part of it.
Thank goodness for birthdays. If we didn't have birthdays the years would roll by and I wouldn't have this opportunity to reflect, take note and mark another step in my their life's journeys.