How appropriate to spend my 60th birthday with the person who “brung me to the dance.” Yes, I came into the world with Mom and that’s who I am with at this moment. And I am surprised and pleased to say, I couldn't be happier.
My first born is off to college doing what she’s supposed to be doing (hopefully!). My youngest is on a three day field trip. I am an empty nester and this birthday is a big one.
In the weeks leading up to today I went into a bit of a panic. I’m turning 60! I have to do something big. Maybe I should go to a spa. Or maybe I should catch a flight and drive to Martha’s Vineyard to mark the occasion. But it all felt, not quite right, required too much effort and seemed a little desperate. And let’s be real–you aren't working and are facing a mountain of debt... so travel?.. really?!
Moreover, it’s not like there haven't been, big woo hoo celebrations over the years. Last year on my birthday, my girls and I were winging our way to Bologna. In past years I have done destination birthdays to my favorite spot on the planet – Anguilla. There have even been protest birthdays–like the time I spent on the Supreme Court steps to hear oral arguments. (That story is next).
Thank god I got some perspective, and decided this birthday would be spent a few hours drive from home. And now hours into it, I realize there is something just right about spending this birthday with my mom. We have actually done it before,like the time we drove to Martha’s
Vineyard for a few days to celebrate our birthdays – only two days apart. We had a wonderful time but that was decades ago. We both were younger and not under the same roof.
Our relationship these days is very different. To say it’s been a challenging few years would be an understatement. For the first time since I was 17 (when I went away to college) mom and I are living together. To say we are different, older women, set in our ways doesn't even begin to scratch the surface. There have been moments when I have felt like our relationship would not survive…that with all the rough times of late, this was the worst (and that is saying something).
There have been times when even though we love each other, I have not liked my mom. She hasn't liked me. And we have told each other as much. It has been hard. If I am honest, I really wanted to spend this birthday by myself, meditating, reflecting, focusing solely on me. Mom volunteered to come with me, “because I shouldn't be alone on my birthday.” But WHAAA! That’s exactly what I wanted. I tried to think of ways to subtly discourage her, without hurting her feelings. “Mom, I really want you to come, but It might be cold in the house.” “The dog will have to travel with us.” But it turns out, she was right. It started coming over me as we were driving here. There is this bond between mothers and daughters – it’s complicated, it’s challenging (especially as you get older and the roles change) but it is an unyielding connection. And if you are lucky, like I was, and had a good start, then that foundation will sustain you when the times get rough. Being together, just the two of us, out of our normal environment, let me reconnect to our roots. The times when I felt she was the only one I could confide in. The times I felt there was unconditional support. The person who baked the cookies for school, made my Halloween costume, made my first dress – it was actually a pantsuit (I was doing pantsuits before Hillary) for my 7th grade school dance. It was white lace, bellbottoms and I know it sounds horrible but it was the 70’s and I thought it was fabulous. So did all my classmates.
So mom and I are here together. It is good and I am glad. What more can you ask for on your birthday!!!
And my gift to me will be reading this and reconnecting to the good feelings, when we are back in the world and the going is back to rough.