Wow. 41. Crazy. How did that happen??? I don't feel 41, so it doesn't really affect me that much. I'm just happy to have this day to celebrate with my family and friends, and to be thankful for all the wonderful gifts I have been given in my life. I am truly blessed.
So blessed, that at the age of 41 I still was able to spend the day yesterday with my mom and dad. We went shopping for some clothes for me and out to dinner together with my kids. When the wine was poured and the order was taken, my parents ever so wonderfully began to offer up a toast to me. But here is where being 41 and a mom of two children has brought me. I didn't feel that I should be the one getting the toast on my birthday. Even though I am honored to feel their love and their pride in me, on the anniversary of my birth, they are the ones that deserve the toast. For it is largely because of them that I am, who I am, today.
So on my birthday, I want to give that toast to my parents. Only now that I have been blessed with two beautiful children of my own, can I fully appreciate all they have done for me - and in awe, say thank you.
Thank you for choosing to have me. For the extreme pain it took, mom, to get me into this world! For getting up with me in the middle of the night when I was still a baby and needed your constant care. Thank you for feeding me, changing me, and keeping a roof over my head. Thank you for working hard and providing for my every need. Thank you for selling some of your treasured possessions - your wedding gown, class ring - when times were tough and your family was in need. Thank you for giving me sisters and a brother to share with, fight with, grow with, and love.
Thank you for taking the leap to move to a house when the apartment got too small for the five of us. For helping me to get on the bus that first day and know that I was strong enough to face that big school all on my own. Thank you for sacrificing so much to send all five of us to Catholic school for a chance at a better education than the one being provided for in our hometown. Thanks for having family dinners with us every night and giving us the chance to sit together and talk about our day. Thank you, thank you, thank you for listening to the five of us whine, cry, complain, fight and tattle every day - and then still tuck us in, give us kisses, and love us every night.
Thank you for figuring out how to take five kids in a small car anywhere and everywhere. And also for agreeing to bring a friend along for the ride. Thank you for taking us on vacations every summer and not strangling us for saying 100 times "are we there yet?" Thank you for spending everything you didn't have to give us fabulous Christmas's every year - even though it is really the traditions that you gave us that our now most important and dear to our hearts.
Thank you for coming to all my school concerts, plays, fairs, parent nights and shows with a big smile on your face like you would rather be no where else in the world. Thank you for sacrificing your own time to make sure that I had the perfect dress to where, science project, Halloween costume, book report....
Thank you for having the patience to teach me how to brush my teeth, ride a bike, hit a ball, write my name, curl my hair, play the guitar, tie my shoes, read a book, drive a car. And for being so excited when I did.
Thank you for finding a way to pay the medical bills when I was constantly sick as a kid. For rearranging your life to be with me and take care of me at home and in the hospital when I was ill or in need of surgery.
Thank you for making every birthday so special. With a decorated house to wake up to in the morning and a favorite dinner to eat together at night. Thank you for continuing to play the role of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny even when your children were coming home from college to celebrate.
Thank you for encouraging me to reach for the top in high school. To overcome my fears and see that I could do it. Thank you for supporting me to go away to college and then always providing a home to come back to. For making me feel that I could accomplish anything and for being so proud when I did. Thank you for helping me to move 10 times in 10 years and for being there through all of my triumphs and disappointments.
Thank you for my beautiful wedding day. For waiting 28 hours in the waiting room for your grandson to be born. For treating my children like they are God's gift - and for truly believing they are. Thank you for always being only a phone call and a car ride away. And for always saying I love you before saying goodbye.
Thank you for giving up so much to raise my siblings and me. A bigger house, a new car, vacations, dinners out, new clothes, financial security. For sharing one bathroom with five kids for 20+ years. Thank you for the sleepless nights spent worrying how to pay the bills, and for the second and third jobs that would eventually pay them. Thank you for giving everything you had and more so that I could have a wonderful life full of love, family, friends, and treasured memories.
You gave up part of your own life so that I could have mine, and for that I am truly grateful.
For all of these things and for so much more, I send my birthday wishes to you mom and dad. For you deserve the congratulations and good wishes on this day. 41 years ago you started a long, hard, wonderful journey - and I am so very thankful and blessed that you did. My gift to you is to now do the same for my own kids. I can only pray that I do as well as you both did.
I love you with all of my heart.
May your heart be at ease,