Thursday, February 18, 2010

What Is instead of What If...

It's the night before our twins turn eight years old. To say that birthdays are hard on me would be an understatement. To say that they are hard on the rest of the family is a new definition of understatement. Remember the reference to the Tasmanian Devil from an earlier post? Just put a vacuum cleaner and a dust rag in my hand and spin me off into the distance and you have the picture. But this year, I'm going to try really hard to not become the birthday mother from hell. And to understand why I get this way.

Part of what drives me to the point of no return is that I think that the birthday should be something other what they end up being. I don't really know why, but somewhere between our oldest's first and fourth birthday, I got overly concerned with the what-ifs that can come up around a birthday. And most of those what-if's have to do with money - if I had the money, I would buy this. If I had the money, I would buy that. And the what ifs extended to the house. If I had the money, I'd fix this. If I had the money, I'd replace that.

Inevitably, the what-ifs would do what they usually do and send the house into a pre-birthday frenzy and the birthday would arrive with tension, exhaustion and one of those nasty pendulum swings. Not really the way to spend a birthday, huh?

This morning, as I could feel the pre-birthday what-ifs creeping into my brain, I got ready to leave for the morning. The car needed gas, so I pulled into the nearest one, slid my card into the payment slot and pumped. I pushed the button to print a receipt and the screen told me to see the cashier. I went inside and a large, friendly man greeted me from behind the counter. I looked at his face and smiled.


A large hand extended out to me.

"Lisa, I thought that was you."

Vern was a student of mine from my days at Front Range Community College and one that I remembered with great fondness. An ex-firefighter, Vern was one of my older students and one of my brightest. He led the class with his articulation, writing skills and hard working ethic. He was seeking a new degree as a nurse's assistant, after not being able to keep up with the physical demands of fire work and his age, which when he was my student was already in his 50s. That was 8 years ago.

I asked him how he was and he shrugged his shoulders.

"All right, but going blind. Darned macular degeneration."

We exchanged a few more words and then I had to go onto my day. We shook hands again and I wished him well.

I got to the car and realized I hadn't gotten my receipt. But I'd received so much more.  Instead, as I started back on to my day and the what-ifs were no longer in my brain. What was there was a strong sense of what is.

What is is the fact of two sleeping girls who have graced my life for 8 years. What is is my oldest daughter blossoming before my eyes. What is is the incredible support and love I've received while reading this series. What is is the feel of a firm handshake at 7:15 this morning.

The first birthday present for two eight year olds from their Mama? What is instead of what if.

Happy Birthday, my beloved girls. Happy What Is.


KosmicEgg said...

Nice. I have two birthdays 4 years and 3 days apart. I feel your pain. Less is more, baby, less is more.

Lisa Trank-Greene said...

no kidding!