It’s A.’s fifth birthday today. I am attempting, and have been successful for two weeks now, to write every Tuesday and Thursday. With the desire to cater to our daughters every whim on her special day, I will keep this short.
Every birthday someone will invariably ask the questions “Do you feel older? Do you feel different?” and truthfully, it’s always annoyed me a bit. I want to say, “No, I don’t. I am reflective, anxious and happy. How I feel most days.” I understand, it’s a way of acknowledging that you have aged, its ‘pleasant talk’, a conversation, and I don’t want people to stop saying it, I just always thought it was ridiculous. Oh, you mean mentally? How do I feel now that this new number is associated with my identity, now that I have joined a new demographic? I see. I feel older when a part of my body hurts more than it used to after working out, when I go to rock concerts, or if I happen to stumble upon a group of teenagers, actually now college, dare I say, kids, in the park.
A. was jumping on her bed before she went to sleep last night. I held her hands, helping her hop from mattress to floor and back again. She was excited. The idea of being able to say “I’m five” is enough for her, she believes it will make her feel different, and if she believes it, then it is so, and she is right. She will be able to walk across the street by herself, try tea with Daddy, which we just did and she said, “It tastes kind of like ginger”, and use our tablet without us watching over her.
As I left the room to let her sleep, I looked back and said “A., this is the last time I will see my four-year old A.” she replied with a cute “I know”, probably wondering why I couldn’t stop looking at her as my mind cranked through a movie reel of the last four years, realizing that she does look different. As the door closed I whispered ‘Goodbye my four-year old A.’, turned the corner and, after gaining my composure, which wasn’t hard with H. shouting like a robot for her green furry lamp to be turned on, I realized that the bookends were put on another year of her life, that tomorrow, now today, is about celebrating her life this far, a life I have known in its entirety.
Watching your kids get older, having known them from the start, it’s a crazy thing to experience, and one you can’t understand until it’s yours. It certainly changes my perspective regarding the phone calls I get from my parents on my birthday. My parents have seven times the years of memories to flood their minds with as they reflect on my life (For the sake of this post, let me labor under that romantic illusion, or perhaps delusion.). They are the ones who ask, “Do you feel older”, and they are the ones I give a half-hearted, “Yah” response to.
This morning, I asked A. the same question, it must be instinctual, or genetic, either way, I now understand why they/people ask ‘the question’ – they see the difference, they are reflecting, and the question isn’t intended to be answered, it is their acknowledgement of time passed.
After I asked A. ‘the question’, she looked around with her finger on her lips, looked down and said, “It feels really different. My whole body.” I asked again and she said, “I just feel bigger.” Your right A., there is no answer; I am just thinking about how beautiful you are, and how awesome it makes me feel to witness you.