Every year on her birthday, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have her here. Every year that she giggles and laughs and jumps up and down for joy at turning another year older, I jump up and down for joy inside that she is here to see this next age. On a typical birthday we would spend the day celebrating and doing fun stuff (the joy of having a summer birthday) and then have a special dinner and cake and presents and all that good stuff. She would go off to bed, full of happiness and delight, and I would go off to some quiet place in the house and thank God for sparing her life and my own. In her eyes, her birthday is a day of celebration. In my mind, her birthday is a reminder to me of how close I came to losing her and myself. I celebrate her birth day all year long. Every time she comes over and gives me a giant hug at school in front of all her friends. Every time she calls me from a sleepover to tell me goodnight and she loves me. Every time she laughs at a joke, or rolls her eyes, or hollers at her brother. Every day I am reminded how lucky I am that she's here.
This year is different. Today she turns ten. Double digits. The big 1-0. No longer a single number, and one year closer to that magical "thirteen". Ten is a big deal. It is a big deal to her, and a bigger deal to me. I can hardly believe that my baby is 10. The years have gone by way to fast and she is growing up much to quick. Today she reached that milestone.Without me. She celebrated her birthday with her friends, at camp, instead of at home. This is the first birthday in 10 years I haven't had her with me. The first time in 10 years I've had the whole day to think about her and how lucky I am to have her in my life because it's just not the same without her here.
The whole dynamic of the house changes when she's gone. It's quieter. Her brother is almost 13.. he is into "his things" mostly... and he only offers up conversation when he feels like it. Or when it's most inconvenient for you. (I think he does that on purpose). He went through a bit of a rough spell this past school year and his mood got ugly and his attitude sucked (ahh.. hormones are lovely) and he's gotten over all that and is back to his old self. Except, not really. It's more like an improved version of his old self. He's been fun this week, and silly and I've really enjoyed having him back. But the son/mom dynamic is different than the daughter/mom relationship, and I can't wait for her to come home Friday night.
So tonight, as I sit here with only the company of a sleeping kitten on my lap... I thought about how much she probably enjoyed having birthday cake at camp with her cabin-mates. I thought about the stories my friends (who are counselors and left camp for an hour today for a steel drum gig we had) told me today about how she is doing and how much fun she is having. I realized how much I enjoy when she calls me to wish me goodnight and tell me she loves me when she isn't here, and how I've missed it this week. That she was able to leave home for 6 days, with no contact to home.. and be away for her birthday tells me that I'm doing something right. Happy Birthday Ashley, I love you.