Yesterday was my birthday. This year it was a rather hurried affair, snatching time to open presents and cards in between attending to my middle son who was poorly with a tummy bug and amusing our other two children. There was plenty of time for thought though.
When I was a child, birthdays were rather self indulgent. Large parties, cake and a bounty of presents and cards, the latter of which were mostly kept safely. I love to look back through them now, invoking memories of happy times with people who I am growing old with, have since lost contact with, or people who are sadly no longer with us.
Another memorable occasion was a party at my parents house, my childhood home. Our back garden strewn with blown up lilos to bounce on, our trusty old Sinclair C5 rolled out to enjoy. My eldest sister had drawn beautiful pictures of butterflies and turned them into badges for me and my friends. My middle sister was getting involved in the fun.
As I grow older I realise that my birthday experiences are rolled out in my memory like a map of my life experience in more general terms. My 16th birthday when I had a live band and a function room booked for example and nobody save my very closest friends turned up. My boyfriend and sisters were dispatched to round people up and save it from being a disaster, but it was an important lesson for my teenage self that life was and is so much bigger than one person and their birthday. In my twenties I disappeared down a cave in Ireland with my husband on one birthday and would have happily spent the day there, in hiding from a world I was beginning to understand but one in which I had not yet mastered the art of adult confidence. Now in my thirties I am harnessing my enthusiasm for life and learning to use my experience, passion and confidence to find the positives and to give things a go.
Back to the present and I am required as a mother and a wife again. Little hands tugging at my clothes, a baby sleeping soundly but mouth twitching in anticipation of being fed, a day spread out before us all to explore. My husband and I approaching it with enquiring and confident adult minds, and my boys relishing it with childish abandon from their happy and secure little world.