I don't know what it is about 32, but it put me in a funk. I was short with my daughter, snippy toward my husband and avoiding everyone else. I haven't been blogging, because (I'll admit it) I have had nothing nice to say. I have been humorless and grouchy.
Thirty-two and pouty, that's me.
On my actual birthday I essentially instituted a phone strike. I didn't want to hear happy wishes or jokes about getting old. I didn't want to be gracious or chatty. I spent the morning at the vet with my cranky cat and her urinary tract infection. Woo hoo. I was practically on the verge of tears all day. POUT.
This is so unlike me that it's ridiculous. I LOVE birthdays. I love mine, yours, hers and his. LOVE them. I think a day that is all about "you" is awesome and important and well-deserved. Growing up, my mom made birthdays magical. We got awesome cakes (seriously, one year she made my brother a Darth Vadar cake, complete with black frosting), and parties and spoiled with presents. Put it this way: on at least one occasion my birthday party included having pony rides in the backyard.
I know, seriously?? Yep.
I wasn't feeling it this year. I don't think a pony would have even cheered me up. Boo Hoo, 32.
And then I went to lunch with an old friend. At one point in time I was her guardian and mentor. But over the past eight years we've evolved into friends or family, or a mix of the two.
When I was fresh out of school I volunteered with AmeriCorps at Girls Hope. There I became a parent-figure, guardian, mentor, rule enforcer and chauffeur to eight tween and teen girls. We lived, with three other staff, in a house just north of Chicago. At 21 years old I was attending parent-teacher conferences, driving a Suburban, making dinners and breakfasts for an entire house. I was checking chores and explaining how tampons worked. There were days when I wanted to run away from the program screaming, but I didn't, I stayed for two years. My life was entwined with the lives, the drama, the goals, the hardship of the girls.
When I did leave my heart broke. I was leaving behind my kids, my girls. What would they do with out me there to make sure their homework was done or that they had new clothes? What would they do without me when their boyfriends broke up with them or they struggled in English? Turns out they would look to a new house parent to deal with the daily drama and slowly allow me to become a friend.
I didn't stay in touch the way I thought I would. Some of the girls are my 'friends' on Facebook. Some I hear about through the grapevine. Two of them, however, call me on my birthday, send me cards at Christmas, invited me to their college graduation and on occasion refer to Addie as their little sister.
One of those lovely "girls " (they're 24 now, but still in my mind they're my "girls") happened to be in town for my birthday. We met up for lunch and hung out until she had to fly back to Chicago. We played Friends Trivia and laughed at Addie and talked about everyone else we had in common. We talked about her future job and school plans. I made fun of her for being such a city slicker, she accused me of becoming a country mama.
Without knowing that I was feeling grouchy and grinchy and pouty, she made me laugh, and that was one hell of a good birthday gift.