I turn 29 today. My daughter turns 6.
Six years ago, I spent my birthday in the hospital, giving birth to the world’s most amazing baby. We thought she would be born on the 12th when I went into labor at about 1 in the morning. 52 hours later, on the morning of my 23rd birthday, she was fighting with the doctors and nurses as they tried to clean her up. I don’t remember a lot about that first day. I remember fainting in the shower. I remember singing “Hush Little Baby” over and over again as I rocked Jael in the rocking chair. I remember holding Jael against my bare chest, Israel covering us with a blanket and falling into sweet, sweet slumber.
Five years ago, Jael turned 1 and my parents were able to spend the day with us. Jael had her first taste of “sweets.” We have great pictures of her covered in chocolate cupcake. Israel was working as a security guard and I was staying at home. I’m not sure what I was doing all day. I wasn’t working or going to school. We didn’t have a computer or a TV so I wasn’t channel or net surfing. We didn’t have much money so I wasn’t shopping. I think I was reading a lot but I don’t really remember.
Four years ago, we were in the projects of Kansas City. Israel was unemployed after the “stable” job he had was terminated. He was beginning the process of deconverting, we were broke, our church was no longer providing us with the support we so desperately needed and our marriage was stressed in the extreme. It was around this time that Israel joined the Air Force. I don’t remember much about this birthday except that we had a big fight in the morning. I don’t recall what it was about but I remember saying, “Happy birthday to me, huh?”
Three years ago, Jael and I were in Monterey, California. Israel was in Texas, going to his second tech school. Jael and I had our neighbors over for cake and ice cream. Ethan was her best friend and Sarah was mine.We took cupcakes to the park the day before her birthday to share with all her other friends. We were finally not broke but Israel had been in tech school for almost a year and during that year had gone through basic and six months of intense language training. It was the most stressful year of our marriage.
Two years ago, we were in Mississippi. We took cupcakes to Story Time to celebrate her birthday. We were financially secure. Israel’s job was boring but not too stressful. We had just moved into the world’s crappiest apartment, with the world’s meanest and most evil managers, and were looking forward to moving to Germany 8 months. We had bought a certified used car and were finally making friends in Biloxi. We had people we would miss when we left.
A year ago, we had just moved to Germany and were in the middle of the winter blues. I made a Black Forest Cake for our birthday. Israel really liked it but I preferred the ice cream. I was starting classes, taking German. Israel had deconverted and had written a letter to his friends and family, coming out of the closet, so to say. We were getting adjusted to Germany. We were very cold. We were desperate for spring but happy to be together and not be in Mississippi. We missed friends and family.
This year Israel is deployed to “Camp Sandy,” I’ve almost finished my freshman year of college, Jael is reading chapter books and we are getting ready to head back to the states. We have two cars, one crap-mobile and a Volvo V70 that is wonderful, even if I did have to wake up early on my birthday to take it in to the shop. We were able to save money this year. I’ve learned more in this last year than I think I learned in all my years previously. The world seems so full of possibilities, or it will once the sun comes out again.
Next year, I hope to be almost done with my sophmore year of college, Jael to be adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing like a pro, Israel to have made progress on his degree. There is a part of me that says we should sight see more this coming year but, to be honest,
I don’t really give two shits whether or not we see anything more in Europe. I’m a really crappy person, I know. But I just don’t care. I mean, there are things I’d like to see but nothing so much so that I’m willing to deal with the hassle of traveling in Europe. That said, I would like to deal with the hassle and plan a couple of day trip for Israel and I sometime in the next year.
Birthdays are weird. They cause me to think back over the years and to look forward to the coming years. It leaves me with a mixture of nostalgia and of expectant hope. And tired. I didn’t make coffee yesterday and was able to get to bed at a decent time so I’m trying to make it through another day without coffee and see if maybe I can get myself onto a better sleep schedule.