Monday, December 26, 2011

State of the Robin

Today is my birthday. I'm 35 now.

I started a new project today, something I've wanted to begin for a while. I have plans to become a self-taught quilter, and on a day when I knew I could do what I wanted with my time, I set out my new self-healing mat and my new rotary cutter and the jelly roll of pretty fabric I've had since summer. In a life busy as this, where it seems like I'm always catching my breath or running until I'm out of breath, it can take a little while to make room for additional dreams.

On my very first cut of the fabric with my new rotary cutter, I sliced into my finger. Let that not be an omen, I thought.

It didn't bleed. I had sliced right into a thick writing callous. The intersection of art and letters: just where I always want to live.

I cut fabric at the kitchen table while my lovelies worked around me. The gift of today was that I could say with impunity: "ask your daddy to help you" and "see if Daddy can fix that." I cut fabric. They baked me cakes.

Erin McMorris's "Somersault" line in multiple colorways, for all you fabric junkies.

What kind of cake do you want, Mama? they asked and I, knowing they'd do best with something from a mix, and I, being neither a "yellow" nor a chocolate cake kind of girl, asked for one of those blueberry crumb cakes. The lovely husband took all three kids to the grocery store and they picked out the blueberry mix, then they saw a pretty pink strawberry mix, and then, because it's so good, they selected a pre-made pound cake, too.

We had an in-the-house kind of day, where I cut fabric and snuggled my lovelies and did the gratifying parts of parenting and my sweet birthday-honoring husband did the hard parts, and then we went out for an early dinner, and as soon as we sat at the booth E blurted to the waitress: it's my Mommy's birthday! her smile audible in her voice.

We came home to dessert: three cakes with singing, and as many candles as could be cut down and salvaged from the hulk-smashed toddler-destroyed Chanukah candles we've been lighting all week.

This is how we live: celebrations among the child-broken things, three cakes to make everyone happy (and also because we believe in cake), and ideas that slow-germinate in my mind before we make space for more of anything.

Just in the past two months or so, once we got through the experience of getting E settled into her new kindergarten life, I've begun to notice that life isn't quite so frazzled as the infrared vibrations to which we've become accustomed. We were so used to living on the adrenaline until the very moment when we collapsed; we kept managing each day as if it relied on adrenaline. We still have three kids, two careers, travel and exasperating needs like nourishment and clean underpants. But G is nearly two; we're past the hardest of the tinies stage. I have begun to realize that we're not quite the pure chaos we've been; we're what a new friend calls "normal-crazy" and I can, in fact, make room for new challenges.

You all might plan your life on New Year's next week, but I like to take it all in on my birthday. My workplace had its "State of the Agency" meeting earlier this month and the President will give his "State of the Union Speech" late next month and this is my own evaluation, my State of the Robin:

I'm 35 now. I'm mom to three sweet kids who are just big enough to occupy just less than all of my time. I work and I'm married and he works, but those don't need add up to quite everything. We've made it to the other side. Maybe we'll even sleep some more. The last time I started a challenging new learning project was to start this blog, close to four years ago. And this blog isn't going anywhere, but like my family, its found its rhythm, and I'm ready to challenge myself again.

I don't know what most people do when they turn 35. I need something new-hard, new-fun, and I'm going to teach myself to sew and quilt. And I'm going to go eat another piece of cake.

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