Celebrating my birthday this week started me thinking about how birthdays change as you get older.
When I was younger I was focused on the gifts--a grooming set, a new pair of boots, a cowboy hat--anything that would better equip me to care for or enjoy my horse. I shared my mom's birthday as well as my grandfather's, but as far as I can remember, the focus was usually on me, the baby. I am sure my sisters would agree.
Now that I am grown with kids of my own, I enjoy simple luxuries on my birthday: chocolate (Dove or above, thank you), a homemade poster of everyone's hand prints (Emma thought of that herself), dozens of good wishes form Facebook, an uninterrupted nap. And I was thrilled about the walk on the beach with Captain Fun since we are brand new Florida residents. (My daughter-in-law suggested we go and leave all the kids with her and Tiger. I love that girl.)
Then there is my favorite birthday tradition: What I Like About You. It's obvious, I think, that this is where everyone in the family tells the birthday person what they like about them.
"You're patient," says Ben, and I am amazed that one of the kids usually says this. I am always glad to hear it--especially this year. Expecting my tenth child at 46 years old, I don't feel patient.
"You give us what we need when we are young so that by the time we are grown, we are ready to stand on our own," Matt and Tiger both agreed. Phew--this was good to hear, as I had been feeling a little neglectful of my older ones lately.
"You cook me food," says Cory, always the practical one. Considering he has to eat whatever I fix, vegetables and all, I take this as a compliment.
Bethany called from school and said she loved our friendship. Emma thanked me for everything I do; Mary said I was funny; Dorothy thinks I am pretty--even with my new beach ball shape; and Silas said I was....squishy. Eight out of nine isn't bad. I'll take it.
This year I turned the tables after the tradition was over. "Now let me tell you what I like about you," I said. "You are my treasures, my greatest gifts. Whenever someone asks me about my nine kids, you should hear me brag on each one of you."
"I never thought about that," says Ben.
I have always said a woman needs three things to feel appreciated on her birthday: a meal she doesn't have to make, a cake she doesn't have to bake, and a gift to open--no matter how small.
I still hold to that. We women are the ones who usually bend over backwards to make everyone else's birthdays special, and it's nice when it's our turn and someone else does the bending.
But these past few years as I have sat around the table with both my adult and younger kids, I finally get what my mother use to say when I would ask her what she wanted on her birthday:
I have everything I need.
Children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.