Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

Motherhood is…

Monday, April 13, 2015
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Motherhood is…

Not changing after your baby wipes snot on your shoulder right before you leave the house for work.

Discussing mundane topics like baby food for hours on end with your fellow moms and not running out of things to say.

Cleaning your bathrooms on a Saturday night and enjoying the feeling of finally having some time to get the house in order.

A constant backache from bending over, lifting, and carrying.

Never having enough room on your phone for all the photos and videos.

Always stressing out over something to do with your child, consciously or subconsciously.

Wondering what on earth you ever did with your time before you had kids.

Spending an evening doing what you did before you had kids and realizing it’s as not fun or fulfilling anymore.

Feeling like you’ve won the lottery when you get five hours of solid sleep.

Buying clothes that are comfortable enough to be slept in yet acceptable enough to wear to the grocery store.

Crying when you find out you have to go out of town for work, because you hate every moment you have to be away.

Enjoying the time you do get to yourself, but in the back of your mind you are counting the minutes until you see your family again.

Googling phrases such as, “Why won’t my 8-month-old sleep all night?” and finding thousands of hits.

Showering a bit less than you used to.

Your heart melting every time your baby gives you one of her perfect smiles.

Motherhood is…exhausting, joyous, challenging, wonderful.

Where I Come From

Friday, April 10, 2015
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past-present-futureAt some point during my formative years, I began asking “where did I come from?”

I wasn’t curious about biology and human reproduction. Well, that’s not exactly true. I was curious about biology and human reproduction, but I was even more curious about my family history.

Perhaps my interest was piqued by peers who proclaimed they were descendants of famous historical figures. I was convinced that my family tree was a common Elm while everyone else’s was a Giant Sequoia.

All these years later, I’m inclined to think my classmates had active imaginations and an innate ability to stretch the truth. But at the at the time, I just wanted to be related to someone famous.

“Your great-grandmother was a Houston, and you’re related to Sam Houston,” my mother told me. That wasn’t a lie. I am related to Sam Houston. I’m just not related to THE Sam Houston. My pedigree, or lack of it, had been confirmed. I was a mutt.

Decades later, before the birth of my son, my interest in family history was renewed.

There is something about babies that binds us to our past. We realize that our existence is completely dependent on previous generations and that we will forever be connected to people we never met.

As I began to pursue my family’s history, so did my husband, although he had an unfair advantage.

His uncle Jack was so passionate about genealogy that he actually wrote a book about the family patriarch who moved from Bavaria, Germany to the small village of Shepherdstown, West Virginia only to be thrust into battle during the Civil War. It was a good story, and my husband took pride in his Bavarian roots. So much so that he was excited when he submitted his DNA to his surname family group in Bavaria. He knew he would discover even more about his family.

He did find out more – just not in the way he expected.

“Your DNA doesn’t match anyone in this group,” he was told. “Do you want us to expand the search outside of the surname and the region?”

He agreed while still insisting that he was German. When the results came back indicating he had roots in Denmark, he blamed the Vikings.

“They pillaged German villages all the time,” he said. “Denmark borders Germany. I’m sure the Vikings  invaded a Bavarian village and that’s why I’m showing Danish and not German blood.”

I tried to politely suggest that one of his grandfathers had been adopted or that maybe, just maybe, one of his great grandmothers had fooled around a bit.

He wouldn’t hear of it. The paternal side of his family was German, and no one would convince him otherwise.

Even when his mother bought him a Viking hat for his birthday, he refused to see any humor in the discrepancy between what the family tree said and what his DNA indicated. He may have Danish blood, but he will always be German.

He has a valid point.

DNA may provide the genetic code for the color of our eyes, our skin tone, and even our predisposition for medical conditions, but the core of who we are is so much bigger than that.

Just as none of us would be whom we are without our DNA or ancestral heritage, neither would we be whom we are without people who gave a piece of themselves to us.

I am a compilation of all the people who believed in me, challenged me and, most importantly, loved me.

The person I am today came from the elderly neighbors who provided a refuge when I ran away from home on a regular basis as a child. The person I am today came from the teachers who chose to see beyond my academic performance and also wanted to nurture my creative and empathetic tendencies. The person I am today came from all the people who hurt, betrayed and abandoned me and from the people who encouraged, supported, and loved me during those same times.

The person I am today could never give a simple answer to the question “where did I come from?” No biology lesson or family tree can even begin to describe where I came from. Only my relationships and the stories I pass on to my children can do that.

Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering, writing, biking or walking the giant German Shepherd, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.

Mommy fails (continued)

Monday, April 6, 2015
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AJ,

It’s me, mom, again. You may remember I once shared some of my mommy fails from our first months together. Well, I think it’s time for another round. I’m happy to say we are still a good team. We are having a lot of fun together, and I’m getting better at this whole “mom” thing. But I’m far from perfecting my craft. So here’s a few more of my “mommy fails”:

By the time we get home, I never remember what was written on your chart at day care. So when your daddy asks me questions like, “Did she nap well today?” my response is usually along the lines of, “Oh, sure…you know…” This also means I can never remember that you ran out of diapers or clothes.

You’ve decided to rebel against diaper changes by arching your back, screaming, turning over and trying to crawl off the changing table. One day, you were being so difficult I decided to just put your diaper on backwards. It still did its job.

I let the dog lick your face and hands more than I should. I’m just happy she’s finally decided to like you.

Little did I know that blowing my nose would be the scariest thing on earth to you. After I did it, your face twisted into a complete look of terror and you started crying like you thought I was hurt. I felt bad that I thought it was really cute.

Whenever you are fussy I sing about what I am doing to try to get you to calm down. I do this so much, I recently found myself singing in the lunch line at a work meeting.

You have a wide selection of headbands and bows, but I rarely remember to put one on you. You’ve only been mistaken for a boy a couple of few times.

And last but not least – we were in the bathroom and as I was drawing your bath, I looked back to find you licking the toilet. I have nothing more to say about that one.

I’m still trying my hardest to do my best for you, and you are a great baby. I hope one day you will look back at these stories and laugh at your crazy mom.

Love,

Mommy

Kelly Weikle and her husband Chris are navigating the uncharted road of parenthood with their infant daughter, AJ. Kelly shares the ups, downs, laughs, and cries of new motherhood on The Mommyhood every Monday. When not discovering what everyone else who has a child already knows, Kelly works full time in corporate communications.

The Tooth Fairy

Tuesday, March 31, 2015
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There are some parental roles I never mastered.

Playing the Tooth Fairy is one.

I should have known it was going to be problematic the day my son lost his first tooth.

He literally lost it.

He was on the playground in kindergarten, and I never got the full story about exactly what happened. The tooth (2)tooth may have fallen into a pile of mulch while he was on the swings, or he may have swallowed it while going down the slide. I don’t know. I suspect the latter because when my husband and I tried to convince our son that the tooth fairy would find his tooth anyway, he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea.

That was the start of my short-lived and very spotty career as the Tooth Fairy.

Losing a tooth was never a big deal for my children because it likely led to disappointment.

Sometimes, one of my children would put a tooth under his or her pillow. More often, they didn’t.

They knew that sometimes the Tooth Fairy remembered to replace the tooth with money and sometimes she didn’t.

When I did remember to take the tooth, I never knew what I was supposed to do with it.

Other parents told me that they kept their children’s baby teeth, but that seemed kind of disgusting to me. I couldn’t imagine a day when I would look at a tiny tooth and get all nostalgic.

That was back in the days when I didn’t realize how quickly the years would fast forward to a time when the cost of college tuition was a much bigger concern than how much the tooth fairy should pay. That was also back in the days when I didn’t give any consideration to the fact that I would someday have to seek professional assistance to remove my child’s teeth.

Last fall, when our dentist advised me that my 16-year old son needed to consult an oral surgeon about having his wisdom teeth removed, I was sure he was going to add “in five years.”

He didn’t.

And so, a few months later, I was trying to get my son to wake up after his first experience with anesthesia.

I could poke fun at how he behaved, but he really didn’t act much differently than normal. He wanted to sleep, and he wanted his parents to leave him alone.

The only surprising moment occurred as we were leaving.

I was handed a small paper envelope and told that it contained my son’s wisdom teeth.

“He wanted to keep them,” the oral surgeon said.

I stuck the envelope in my purse and immediately forgot about it. I certainly didn’t think that my son wanted his teeth so he could put them under his pillow in hopes that the Tooth Fairy would make one final appearance.

He and I both knew that my dismal performances as the Tooth Fairy were a thing of the past.

We didn’t realize I had one final curtain call.

A couple of months after my son’s surgery, I was checking out at the local grocery store when I was asked for my bonus card. I keep it attached to my key ring, which I had misplaced somewhere in my purse. I put my purse on the ledge by the debit card scanner as I searched. When I pulled out my keys in triumph, two large obviously adult human teeth popped out and onto the conveyor belt.

I couldn’t look at the clerk’s face as I scooped up the teeth and threw them randomly back in my purse.

I couldn’t look at her face as I handed her my key ring.

I couldn’t even look at her face when I paid for my purchase.

The only thing I could do was try to regain some semblance of pride while assuring the clerk that I wasn’t a complete freak.

“Being the Tooth Fairy can be a messy and sometimes embarrassing job,” I said as I walked away.

I didn’t need to look back. I knew the young woman couldn’t understand.

But someday, in the rapidly approaching future, she probably will.

Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering, writing, biking or walking the giant German Shepherd, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.

Out of hibernation

Monday, March 30, 2015
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“Despite the forecast, live like it’s spring.” – Lilly Pulitzer

With our quest to avoid cold weather and the flu, we fell into a hibernation-like state this winter. Most days we didn’t make it anywhere but work and day care, and for a couple weeks in February we didn’t even make it to those places.

I don’t care if it’s cliché; I am not a fan of winter. So, as April descends upon us, my heart beats with the flutter of anticipation for hot weather and long days.

March gave us a few warm(ish) days and a few more cold days, and while the weather has a long way to go to my ideal (85 and sunny please), I can finally feel the fresh air of spring.

This spring is extra special because it is my first one with AJ. I’m determined to get outside and avoid the monotonous weekday routine. Our house might end up a wreck, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay. Here’s what we have on the agenda for spring:

First and foremost, we plan to get outside as much and as often as possible. We made it to the park on the warm days in March, and the sight of teenagers playing basketball, kids riding their Christmas bikes for the first time, dogs crazy with freedom and everything in between felt like fresh air to my lungs. AJ is big enough to sit in her stroller without the car seat now, so she can see the world around her. She loves going on walks and runs and it’s an activity I plan to incorporate into our daily routine.

We are planning to start swim “lessons” this spring. I was amazed to find out babies as young as 6-months-old can participate in swim lessons. Naturally it will be more about getting used to the water rather than learning any strokes. This will be our first out-of-the-house parent/child structured activity and I’m looking forward to it.

Another goal for spring is to go somewhere to see animals. Ideally, I’d like to make a trip to a zoo, but if that doesn’t work out I will try to find somewhere local. AJ loves our dog and cat and I think she would enjoy getting to meet new types of animals.

Unexpectedly, running errands with AJ has become a fun activity. When she was a newborn, it wasn’t hard to take her places because she mostly just slept, but the window of time in between feedings was too short to get anything accomplished. In the winter, I simply avoided taking her out at all. Now that I don’t have to worry about bundling her up Randy-from-Christmas-Story-style, it’s slightly easier to get out of the house. Yesterday, we made a Target run, and she had a blast sitting in the child seat of the cart and looking around. And she hasn’t entered the temper-tantrum stage, so for now, running errands can be a nice way to get out of the house.

Moms, what activities do you have planned for your babies this spring? Are there any activities for babies less than 1-year-old that you would recommend?

Kelly Weikle and her husband Chris are navigating the uncharted road of parenthood with their infant daughter, AJ. Kelly shares the ups, downs, laughs, and cries of new motherhood on The Mommyhood every Monday. When not discovering what everyone else who has a child already knows, Kelly works full time in corporate communications.

The Personality Test

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
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I was feeling a bit stressed when my cell phone buzzed.

I gave it a brief glance thinking I wouldn’t answer. Then I noted that my 13-year old daughter was calling.

The clock showed 2:45, and she normally doesn’t call as soon as school lets out. I knew something had happened.

In that short span of time between noticing the caller i.d. and actually answering the phone,  I racked my brain for what I had, or hadn’t, done that had caused my latest parenting fail.

I expected drama on the other end of the phone. Instead, I got excitement.

My daughter was actually bubbling over with enthusiasm.

“Mom, she said, “we took a personality test in class today, and I’m an INFJ.”

She then regaled me with the positive and negative traits of her personality.

I was impressed. She WAS describing herself.

When she finally took a breath, she asked, “What are you?”

While I’ve taken the Myers Briggs test on more than one occasion, I couldn’t answer her question.

“I don’t know.” I said.

She was silent for a moment then said, “I thought you’d taken this test before.”

“It’s complicated,” I said.

I thought that put the matter to rest, but as soon as I said goodbye, my phone started buzzing again.

This time, I was receiving a text message from my husband.

“Your daughter and I are diplomats and your son is a virtuoso. Me – INFP; S- ISTP; K – INFJ.”

Despite my busy day at work, I felt compelled to text back.

“You bunch of introverts,” I replied.

My husband’s response was  predictable.

“What are you?”

I responded. “I forget.”

Here’s the thing. I hadn’t necessarily forgotten, I simply didn’t know.

On each occasion I’ve taken the Myers Briggs personality test, I’ve gotten a different answer.

That isn’t supposed to happen.

Personalities are supposed to be as stable as DNA. People are who they are. At least, they are who they are except for me.

While some people might think my inability to hold on to a defined personality means I’m unbalanced, I prefer to think that I’m a complicated individual who has a difficult time answering a question in a concrete manner.

There’s  always an “it depends.” It depends on the situation. It depends on my mood. Mostly, it depends on how much attention I’m actually paying to the questions being asked.  My mind has a tendency to wander when it comes to details.

My family wanted the details about my personality anyway.

I hadn’t even closed the garage door after arriving home from work when my daughter was already thrusting the computer at me. She insisted that I once again take the test.

As I did, she sat perched by my shoulder commenting on every answer.

The Question: “You usually think a lot before you speak.”

Me:” Disagree somewhat”

My daughter: “STRONGLY DISAGREE”

The Question: “You do not let your emotions show, even with close friends.”

Me: (I don’t have time to answer before my daughter yells).

My daughter: STRONGLY, STRONGLY, STRONGLY DISAGREE.

I began to think my daughter should just take the test for me, but instead we forged on together.

Later, I went back and took the test by myself. The result was the same.

For the moment, I’m an ENFP (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving). Apparently, that  means I have “extraverted intuition with introverted feeling.”

I have absolutely no idea what that means.

I’m hoping my daughter, the INFJ (the Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging) can explain it to me.

If not, I may just have to continue to stumble through life just being myself.

That has, after all, worked fairly well for the past 48 years.

Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering, writing, biking or walking the giant German Shepherd, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.

The fun stage of baby

Monday, March 16, 2015
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AJ turned 7 months old last week and we’ve officially entered what I consider to be “the fun stage.” The last couple months have been downright fun. She’s grown from an infant into a real baby; a little human being with her own distinctive personality.7 months

As I’m writing this post, she’s sitting on our living room rug, “talking” to herself, looking at her hands, and rocking back and forth on all fours. Any day now she will take off across the floor. Just in the last two weeks, I’ve watched her learn to move to things out of her reach, usually through a combination of scooting, rolling and army crawling.

Everyone has his or her favorite stage of “baby;” for me things keep getting better the older AJ gets. The newborn stage was wonderful in its own way, but it also was challenging, emotional, exhausting and overwhelming. A newborn baby does almost nothing yet needs constant care. And, because of the traumatic experience of childbirth added with the never-ending cycle of sleepless nights, I felt like a shell of my real self.

Now, at 7 months, motherhood is still challenging, emotional, exhausting and sometimes overwhelming, but I’ve gotten more used to my new life. I feel like myself again. AJ still needs constant care, she’s a baby after all, but she is responsive, appreciative and loving.

A baby around this age starts reaching some of the really fun developmental milestones, physically, mentally and socially, which means every day brings something new and exciting. This is around the time when babies learn to crawl, pull up and sit on their own. It’s when they start to form syllables that will turn into words. It’s when they start eating food and learn to drink from a sippy cup.

Although AJ certainly can’t talk, and my dreams of teaching her baby sign language have been pretty much abandoned, she communicates with us. She changes her facial expression to show she’s happy to see us. She puts her arms out for us to pick her up. She bangs the tray on her high chair when she wants more food. She knows her name and (I think) is starting to learn other words.

And she LOVES to play. I had no idea how much fun playing with a baby could be. She wants to explore everything. You can see her mind working through the concentration on her face.

This stage does come with new challenges. I worry about her food schedule and if she’s eating enough. I worry about her development and if I’m encouraging her learning enough. It’s harder to take her places now because she doesn’t like to be constrained, and constantly wants to be entertained. She gets in to everything she can (and I know it will only get worse!). I’m always busy with all the tasks that need to be done for her.

Although I look back fondly on the time when AJ was a newborn, it was rough actually going through it. Not every day is sunshine and roses now, some days I feel like I’m doing all it takes just to survive, but I’m having fun. And I’m optimistically confident that as she continues to grow, life will continue to get sweeter and more fun.

Kelly Weikle and her husband Chris are navigating the uncharted road of parenthood with their infant daughter, AJ. Kelly shares the ups, downs, laughs, and cries of new motherhood on The Mommyhood every Monday. When not discovering what everyone else who has a child already knows, Kelly works full time in corporate communications.

The better to see you with, my dear

Monday, March 9, 2015
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For the first time in my life, I need glasses.

No, they didn't come in that box

No, they didn’t come in that box

Although I’ve been complaining for months that I cannot see while driving at night, my vision changes snuck up on me. Any new mom knows there is a kind of tired that literally makes your eyes cross. So any time I wasn’t able to see something, I figured it was the exhaustion setting in.

For the past several weeks, I’ve had a headache almost every day. Again, I thought it was due to the lack of sleep and my body craving caffeine. About a week and a half ago I attended a presentation and realized I couldn’t see the presenter’s face. That’s when it hit me that I might need to see a professional. And viola, new glasses and a new world I didn’t even realize I was missing!

Yes, it’s true, being pregnant and breastfeeding can change your vision. According to my thorough research (Google-searching), these changes are mostly temporary. So, will my vision go back to normal when I stop nursing? It’s hard to tell. Although many articles say not to invest in glasses or contacts since the changes could be temporary, I politely declined that advice as I cannot even see the stoplights without my glasses.

This isn’t the first unexpected after-effect of having a baby I’ve experienced. Many new moms will find themselves losing an unusually large amount of hair. It turns out, when you are pregnant, you lose less hair due to hormones. Once a woman has her baby, her hair cycle will play catch up, resulting in extra hair loss until the cycle is back to normal.

I also have aches and pains in places I didn’t used to. Since having AJ, my knees have not been the same. I’m not sure if it was the extra weight I was carrying around for months or something else, but my knees feel like they’ve aged 15 years. I can’t twist, squat or bend like I once could.

All in all, I’m not the same as I once was. Getting back to your normal self after having a baby isn’t just about losing the baby weight, although that’s challenging enough as it is. The fact of the matter is our bodies are not the same after we have a baby, and for many of us our bodies will never be “the same” again. Skin sags in places it didn’t use to, scars and stretch marks tattoo our bodies like battle wounds. We may get acne, seem to lose our hair or even experience vision changes.

But here’s the good news: My arms are strong and toned from carrying AJ. My face may be getting a few wrinkles, but it’s because I’m constantly smiling. I’ve found new beauty in myself through AJ’s features that are similar to my own. I appreciate my body and what it can do more than ever before.

Babies or not, our bodies age and change, so at least I can blame my worsening eyesight on having a baby, instead of old age!

It takes a village

Monday, March 2, 2015
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Last Friday, a wild idea popped into my head and I decided to venture out of the house for dinner and some shopping. That meant packing what seemed like enough supplies for an entire weekend and wrangling a screaming baby into her car seat (which she’s recently decided to hate). An hour later we were on our way.

I must have been quite a site as I walked in to the restaurant. I was the first one of my group there, and was balancing purse, diaper bag, and baby. Since AJ can sit on her own now, I decided to try to put her in a high chair for the first time. With one hand securing AJ on my lap, I tried to correctly place our high chair cover on the chair with the other. It was at this point a nice gentleman walked over to me and asked, “Ma’am, do you need some help?”

“NoI’mfinethankyou,” I quickly muttered, surprised by him and a little embarrassed that it was so obvious that I DID need help. But as my husband knows all too well, I hate asking for help.

Even in school, I rarely asked questions, because I didn’t want help from the teachers; I wanted to figure it out on my own.

So, when AJ was born, I thought I could do it all on my own. That notion was quickly squashed, but even now I’m still having trouble asking for, or accepting, help. Which is one of the reasons I’m so grateful for all the help I do receive from my friends, family, our daycare, and even strangers.

When it comes to raising (or rearing, if you want to go the grammatically correct route) children, it truly does take a village. Chris and I are fortunate to have so many people who not only care about AJ but who are willing to drop whatever they are doing and rush to our aide.

From grandparents who go above and beyond their call of duty to the strangers who gave up their seat for us while we were waiting for a table at lunch, it’s inspiring how willing and ready others are to help us in our journey.

Some days I wake up and I’ve got it all together, but others I wonder how, and if, I’m going to make it. It’s those “survival days” when I start to think maybe I’m not cut out for this motherhood thing. Every mom has been there, and we all make it through, many times with a little help from those close to us.

Later that evening, I went up to the man who offered to help and I thanked him. I admitted I was flustered and he caught me by surprise. I wanted to make sure he knew his offer was appreciated, because if I’m lucky enough for someone to offer help, I should take it without embarrassment.

Even supermoms need help sometimes, because as the saying goes, “it takes a village.”

Kelly Weikle and her husband Chris are navigating the uncharted road of parenthood with their infant daughter, AJ. Kelly shares the ups, downs, laughs, and cries of new motherhood on The Mommyhood every Monday. When not discovering what everyone else who has a child already knows, Kelly works full time in corporate communications.

The Birthday Present

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
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As a kid, I loved my birthday.

I loved getting special attention, eating cake, opening presents and even having the occasional birthday party. In the birthdaydark ages when  I was growing up, we didn’t expect birthday parties every year, and we certainly didn’t expect elaborate parties. Our moms blew up a few balloons and invited the neighbor kids over to play games and eat homemade birthday cake.

After I hit the magical age of 21, I cared less and less about birthdays. By the time I was 30, everyone expected me to be in a bad mood on the day I was expected to celebrate.

To me, birthdays were simply  reminders that I was getting older and hadn’t achieved as much as someone my age should have.

I had come to adopt my father’s philosophy about birthdays. He always wondered why we made such a big deal about the day we were born when we didn’t do any of the actual work.

The year that he and my mother were married, he actually sent flowers to my grandmother on my mom’s birthday thanking her what had happened 25 years earlier, Apparently, my grandmother thought he was a little strange, so he never sent her flowers again.  But he did continue to raise the same questions from time to time.

I embraced my dad’s philosophy before and after I had my own children.

I considered throwing birthday parties for my kids to be the ultimate test of parenthood. Like most tests, they kept me up at night with worry,and I never enjoyed them. I just didn’t get why birthdays were such a big deal.

That changed a few days ago with one phone call

My friend Stefani, who had been battling cancer for years, had been given 48 hours to live during the week when I was turning 48 years old.

My friend, who threw amazing birthday parties for her daughters and who celebrated her life to the fullest, died the week when I was prepared to once again complain that I was yet another year older.

My friend, who  had grown to  appreciate the importance of holding our children close, celebrating every moment and creating memories that can live beyond our last breath, gave me one last birthday present.

She reminded me that birthdays aren’t intended to be a reminder of our march toward old age but are actually intended to be a celebration of survival, perseverance and the people who have loved and  supported us during those difficult times.

This year, I’m celebrating my birthday because I know Stef would have excepted nothing less.

Here’s to you Stef.

Cheers.