Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 45: Free to Car Dance...

...and sing like you think no one's listening.

When you're Mom, birthdays aren't quite what they used to be. Babies just don't observe them. So my birthday began like any other day, with me getting out of bed early with Jackson, jumping back and forth between two children nursing, making breakfast, and doing laundry.

Fortunately I'm not a person who has ever really needed a big to-do on my birthday, so this was okay with me. The afternoon continued with helping my husband make forty pounds of mashed potatoes for a V-day event and watching Jackson dump a glass of water on his Dr. Seuss memory game "because the Grinch was thirsty." All in all, I'd call it the usual.

I took it all in stride, looking forward to the evening when Nick and I could get away for a couple hours while my parents watched the kids. I had really wanted to start tackling the freedom concept, so the plan was to take thirty minutes to myself before our date to write a post. Max had other ideas.

He was exhausted, but fighting sleep. Maybe he could feel the impending separation, maybe he picked up on my frustration and desire to get away that was heightening with each minute he didn't fall asleep. I watched as the clock ticked and felt my alone time vanishing before my eyes. This I did not take in stride. In fact, just the opposite. I got pissed.

My parents arrived and as Nick finished his potatoes, I handed off my happy-against-all-odds baby who wouldn't sleep and stormed out of the house to go sit somewhere quiet and write.

As I sped away (which I'm sure was much more dramatic in my head than in reality) I instinctively grabbed for a mixed CD I used to live and breathe by in my college days, but that I hadn't listened to in years. I turned the heat on, rolled the windows down, and cranked the volume until I could feel my eardrums about to burst. I belted out all the angsty tunes that got me through drama and breakups just a few short years ago, and kept on driving right past my destination.

Before I knew it, I was all the way across town and I just kept going. With each song came flashbacks of what seemed like someone else's life. The images bore no resemblance to my now baby-centered, poo-filled, breast-milk-driven existence. By coincidence, I drove past a few of the apartments I had once called home, and memories came flooding back. And with them tears. This was a mid-life crisis more than a walk down memory lane.

But as quickly as it had come on, it was over. As I reminisced about a life that was all about me - what I wanted and what made me feel good - I started to remember the emptiness, the longing for something more. I remembered the lonely nights lying awake, dreaming of having a husband and children to dedicate my life to. These were my deepest desires then, and now my reality. And finally with that realization came the car dancing...and weird looks from other drivers.

Frustration, sadness, and feeling overwhelmed were replaced with joy, freedom and intense gratefulness. The husband I once dreamed of pales in comparison to the husband I have. The children God gave me surpass the ones I imagined in every single way. I am so blessed, and I want to revel in that. I don't want to miss all the things I waited for that are right in front of me, and when I don't choose freedom and joy, that's just what I do.

The day ended with a precious few hours alone with my husband (and a few drinks that didn't hurt), and a pan of homemade brownies. I'd say it was a pretty great birthday, and one that I hope will color the year to come with contentment and most of all freedom.

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