I wrote this last night while waiting for a ferry home and I am posting it today.
Sometimes birthday celebrations mean cake with friends, opening gifts-which are surprises or wishes bought from a list. Twelve years ago today I gave birth to our second daughter. Twelve years. In one sense it seems like forever ago and in another the details, and my feelings of joy, come flooding back as though it were yesterday.
My daughter gave us her written wish list which has been posted on our family bulletin board in the kitchen for the last two weeks. The list included wishes for some material things but it also included items like: ” I hope it rains and we can go for a walk on the beach that E showed us” ( my daughter was born in a rainy part of the world and loves the rain), and ” I wish we could go to Vancouver to see friends”.
Her older sister planned a trip to Vancouver for the day. She made a video which she showed the birthday girl first thing in the morning and it included a fun birthday song and at the end of the video said: ” okay, for your birthday –surprise!- let’s go to Vancouver”. So off we went. We parked in Swartz Bay, caught the ferry and took public transit to our meeting place at Granville Island. Her friends crept up behind her and shouted–“surprise!” We spent the afternoon having lunch together, doing a scavenger hunt (her sister designed) around the turtle pond, listening to musicians while eating gelato in the spring sunshine. For some reason twelve seems old. It meant an adult ticket on the ferry. In her hand she held her boarding pass printed with her birthday date and ADULT. Long gone are the sleepless nights spent with a teething baby, and while I celebrate her independence with each day knowing that with every step she takes, I feel even more proud and excited for her, but also a little sad inside because their childhood goes by so quickly. It strikes me that birthday celebrations can be exciting for children, but filled with a mixture of feelings for their parents as it marks the passing of time as only growing children can.
We are sitting in the waiting room before we board the last ferry home. The smell of the ocean air fills the room, there is a chatter of travelers going home to the island or visiting carrying surf boards, golf clubs, guitars and various luggage. All are looking forward to the long weekend ahead.
This birthday wasn’t filled with tangible gifts from a “usual” birthday, but the extraordinary thoughtfulness of a 13 year old sister who can think outside of herself and plan for a joyful event, friends who would support her in making that event happen (which in this case involved a LOT of driving) and a mother who is just so happy and grateful to be along for the ride.
I think that this understanding that connection with great friends with whom you can share your deepest thoughts, feelings and successes is such a gift at this early stage in life. Many adults are still trying to achieve this understanding themselves.
If you are a parent, grandparent, an aunt or have a special young person in your life, I hope you are enjoying the ride..