Yep, yesterday was my birthday.
Not a big deal, heck - I even forgot what day it was the first half-hour I was awake - but still it was my birthday. A warm feeling rushed over me as I recalled birthday mornings as a kid. I had felt so special. It was my day, and even though it was sometimes embarrassing to have people wish me a Happy Birthday or sing the Happy Birthday song to me (blush!), it also felt good to have everyone's attention. Oh, and the celebratory cakes tasted pretty darn awesome too.
I presumed yesterday would be like that too!
I knew it would be a hectic day. Bill had training at his new seasonal off-farm job, and I had lots to do at home. The kids had lessons and chores. Then we'd have a birthday supper with a fudge cake and peanut butter frosting. The evening would be complete with some time to relax and play games.
But the reality of the day quickly set in. Bill left, and I faced a mountain of paperwork and supervising the kids' work. I submitted my FairShare CSA Coalition Annual Survey in preparation of our annual meeting coming up in December. I was glad when it was done but was frustrated with myself because it took longer than I expected.
Then I headed outside to find Aidan. We weighed a representative sample of the turkeys we'll be delivering to Meat, Egg & Sweet farm members next week. After that Pixie, our herd dog in training, and I helped Aidan move his roosters from the pasture to the barn.
That done, I crawled in our low tunnels to cut mixed greens and pick kale that are thriving under their protective blanket of row cover. Next up, carrots.
Bill and Aidan had warned me that something, probably"thirteen-lined ground squirrels" was wrecking havoc in our carrot beds. While okay with sharing vegetables with these little ground-dwelling critters I found they had taken more than their fair share, at least in my opinion! It was disheartening to find carrots eaten down the side or chewed into bits. Parts of the disturbed beds were just empty. We harvested the small carrots not yet affected before they would be literally eaten out from under us.
And darkness started to fall.
Unloading greens and carrots, we realized it was supper-time and there was still lots to do. The day had gotten away from us, and modification was needed. The traditional birthday supper was changed to pizza from the local gas station.
I quickly mixed up the cake while Bill ordered and went to pick up supper. When he got back, a seemingly innocent comment from him rubbed me the wrong way, and the craziness of our lives crashed down on me. I felt overwhelmed. I was uncharacteristically upset. Why couldn't I have a birthday night where we could relax and play euchre? Why couldn't I be selfish and bask in my family's attention?
I went to my room to try to change my mood. I knew I was acting much less like the 52-year-old I'd just become and more like a spoiled brat but couldn't help it. The Lesley Gore song from my mom's vinyl collection "It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To" played in my mind. I felt ridiculous but couldn't stop crying. This wasn't the birthday I'd envisioned, and I felt anything but special.
The kids realized something was wrong. Liam came and sat with me, rubbing my hand. Marlee brought hugs and a gift of her earrings she knew I liked. Downstairs I found Bill washing dishes, a chore he greatly dislikes. And Aidan surprised me with a card he'd made, complete with a one-of-a-kind drawing.
We sat down and ate. It was a subdued meal with everyone afraid to say anything that would make me crack again. I was embarrassed. This wasn't the attention I had envisioned. When the cake cooled, I stacked the layers together to frost. The top fell apart in several pieces, even crumbling in places. It seemed fitting for the day.
We tried to salvage it. We put the big pieces together, but it didn't certainly didn't look pretty. Aidan suggested quickly sticking it together with the thick frosting. That helped, but even so, it leaned drunkenly. Liam poked in a big handful of candles and lit them before the cake could slide apart. I blew them out, everyone sang, and we shared the cake which was still a bit of a mess but much improved.
Our bellies full, we went out in the dark to the pack shed. We washed potatoes, bagged greens, banded bunches of turnips, and sorted garlic. The radio played my favorite classic rock songs from the 70's, and the kids joked around. We worked with purpose intent on being finished for the day.
Suddenly I smiled. This anniversary of my birth was like the cake. It started as a seemingly good day just as the cake coming out of the oven had seemed good. But the day and the cake both got stressed and crumbled. Then with helpful hands my day, and the cake, were put back together. Not perfectly, but back together. The cake was patched up with frosting. And love and caring turned out to be the frosting on my day. It was the kind of birthday I had hoped for after all . . . I just hadn't recognized it at first.