A Milestone Love

milestone loveThe restaurant is crowded, unusually so for a Tuesday night. The waitress lets the specials roll off her tongue as she does on any other night, and we pretend to listen even though we’ve all chosen our main courses already.

Table for four. While this happens with amazing regularity at home, we don’t often manage to sync our schedules and go out for dinner together. Old habits die hard, and I am usually just as happy making dinner and sharing it around our table.

But tonight is different.

My husband has a milestone birthday today. And while the other diners may think they are having a special meal with colleagues or friends, I feel as if there is a bubble around our table tonight.

A bubble that holds within its rounded edges the three people I hold the most dear in my heart.

A bottle of wine arrives, along with something tamer for the teens with bubbles and cherries. We raise our glasses in a toast to my husband and I catch his smile as he thanks us for spending this evening with him.

It’s magic… like all of the times I have seen this man smile, but deeper, almost. He’s in his happy place, with his family, and there is no place else he’d rather be right now.

I feel a lump form in my throat that I push aside. I don’t want to cry, don’t want to take away from his moment.

He wanted to be with us.

When people would ask, “Where are you going for the BIG birthday?” he never wavered, really. Offers of exotic beach vacations, ski lodges or weekends in Napa didn’t entice him. Sure, they all sound like fun… but he wanted more.

He wanted to be with us.

To start the second 50 years of his life with his family, to listen to our stories and laughter and bask in the glow of that kind of love that nobody else can give you.

And as I watched him raise his glass to us, to another 50 years, to our family I couldn’t help but be in awe of this man who has given me so very much. Family, unconditional love, laughter.

And he wanted to be with us.

Happy Birthday, babe… here’s to another 50.

Something’s Got to Change

It’s become a pattern, an annoying part of my personality that follows me into middle age, whether I am conscious of it or not.

Starting over.

Every new year, the first of every month, every Monday and even just every morning I feel my brain saying it.

A fresh start.

A new day to be a better person, get more done, exercise, eat right, be kind, read a book, visit a friend, help someone in need, clean something or accomplish a nagging to-do-list task. It doesn’t matter whether I face a crazy day of students and freelance work until the wee hours near bedtime, or if it’s a lighter day when I could really grab some relaxing time.

My brain just tells me it will be different.

Better.

And I seize the hours at the beginning of the “new” with great intentions – full of energy, caffeine and the attitude that I can take on the world.

The clock continues to tick away the minutes and hours, no faster or slower than before.

But I feel the loss of time as it slides out the door. Time I won’t get back.

Ever.

At the end of the new day/new week/fresh new month I feel the same way.

Like I didn’t show up. Like I sat on the bench, watching the game from the sidelines.

Put me in coach – I’m ready to play.

This time I have to make some changes – before this amazing and wonderful life I have been gifted just slips like sand through my fingers.

I am going to try to work smarter, play harder, laugh more and slow down a wee little bit.

Middle-age is a cruel BFF. She energizes me one day and defeats me the next. I am not finished parenting but I haven’t started to care for my parents yet. My body is changing but my mind is still young. My young friends make me laugh and yearn to have been born a decade later.

But then I wouldn’t have what I have.

And what I have here in my tiny piece of the world is pretty damn awesome.

I’m just on a mission to make it even more awesome.

Stay tuned.

Mirror Image

Who is this woman and what has she done with my youth?

It was just here a minute ago.

Or did I just set it down for a moment when I was at The Alibi? The Office on the Beach?

Maybe someone will turn it in to Lost and Found.

I may have taken a wrong turn at sunbathing in baby oil and spent too much time worrying and developing a scowl.

That’s the only explanation I can come up with.

I’ve tried to take good care of myself.

The younger me didn’t know how good she had it; knees that weren’t baggy, hair that didn’t require chemical intervention at six-week intervals, a jack-rabbit metabolism, and a face free of wrinkles and age spots.

This new woman? She follows me everywhere. Shows up in restaurant bathroom mirrors, reflections in the windows at Starbucks, all those fancy-schmancy mirrors in the Crate and Barrel store.

She looks a bit tired, takes longer to rise from a seated position, and her shoes may qualify as sensible.

It’s not my mother.

Because in those Crate and Barrel mirrors today? My mom was next to me on one side; my daughter beside me on the other.

There was no denying it today.

I am in that middle place.

In the middle where you can remember being your mommy’s little girl; going out shopping together or just hanging out.

Until that was no longer cool.

In the middle where you can still see the beginnings of your own motherhood journey; still remember holding those crying little ones and rocking them ever-so-gently.

In the middle where your kids become self-sufficient, busier with their own lives, less likely to need you for something.

In the middle where I can also see forward to my own mother’s life.

Kids grown, out on their own, no longer needing to worry about daily tasks of motherhood or trivial questions like peanut butter and jelly? or pink shirt or yellow?

This woman who stalks me? She’s not half bad.

She’s got a pretty good sense of humor, as long as you don’t ask her kids. She loves her family, likes a good pizza, a nice glass of wine, and plays a mean game of Scrabble.

And since she’s not going anywhere soon? I’ve come to like her.

But I still check the Lost and Found occasionally.