What I’m giving to myself on my 33rd birthday

This month is my 33rd birthday.

When I first wrote that sentence, I actually wrote: This month is my 34th birthday.

Then I paused — wait — will I be 34? Or is it 33? [Longer pause. Furrowed brow. Thinking, thinking.] OK, I’ll be 33.

That in itself is an example of how I feel about this coming birthday: it is an aside. Half the time, I don’t even know how old I am. Or where my car keys are. Or my brain. I blame it on being the mother of 4 beautiful children under 5 — the ones who I spend hours daydreaming up party ideas for. But for my own birthday? I’d rather not fuss about it (though a little sleep-in might be nice.)

But at heart, I am truly a ceremonial type — a traditionalist who loves things like birthdays and New Year’s and baby books and all the sorts of things that give me a chance to sit back, reflect, set goals and give thanks. So this birthday, I shall do that once more. And as I give thanks:

I will give myself time.

Time to learn, to pray, to be quiet.

I will give myself these moments by giving away other things: opportunities, activities, or events that keep us too busy. I’m giving myself time to be alone sometimes, so that in my time with others I can be fully present.

I’m giving myself time to stretch, to sweat, to strengthen.

Time to grow, time to reach goals — without unnecessary hurry. I am setting my clock with a bigger clock: praying to understand the timetable that is meant for me. So that I am not impatient or anxious or overly-eager, but with patient trust, I am at peace being imperfect and a work in progress.

I am giving myself enough time so that I always have time to stop and smell a rose or a daisy or a stem of rosemary — to chat with a neighbor, to invite them in for a cup of coffee or some fresh-baked pound cake.

I am giving myself time so that my best time can be given to the people who God gave me time for.

I will give myself permission.

Permission to do things a little differently. To live life as an adventure.

In the past 10 years, I have gone from a city girl to a country-dweller.

I went from being an only child to a homeschooling mother of 4.

From living alone with a pet cat — to loving this house of many (and dreaming of a pet cow).

From writing about products for advertising agencies to writing about purpose and Down syndrome and motherhood.

This wild, wonderful life isn’t what I expected — but it’s better than what I could have imagined. And I am giving myself permission to live, to love, to fail, to be vulnerable, and to pursue all that I’m meant to do.

I will give myself a reminder.

A reminder that every day we live — and that every breath we breathe — is a gift.

That my children learn from watching me.

That the days are long but the years are short — and all those other truths that have become cliches because we say them so often. (But we say them so often, because they are so easy to forget.)

I am reminding myself that this month I am 33, but someday (God willing), I will be 93. And what will I care about on a sunny September afternoon that year? What will I look back on and wish I had done, said, or focused on?

The answer to that question, I think, will help remind me of what matters most.


Oh — and also, I will give myself chocolate.


“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.” – William Barclay

What I'm giving to myself on my 33rd birthday

One Comment

  1. viren

    Was going through similar emotions, torn between consulting and relationships and trying to find purpose and happiness and asking questions on my 33rd bday.
    Stumbled upon your post and its just connected straight up. Thank you for your wonderful post. Its inspiring and beautiful to say the least.

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