As my birthday neared, I became anxious and nervous, overwhelmed by the thought of entering my late 20’s. Late twenties… adulthood, no way out of it. No youth left in me, a young nothing. My age now greets me as a responsible adult who lives on my own, pays utilities and rent; an adult who throws dinner parties instead of caution to the wind.
2 weeks before my birthday, my mother told me to get in contact with my HR person at work to begin the process of open enrollment for…insurance. I told my mother that I wouldn’t need to worry about it until I turned…26. While I appreciate Obama allowing me to swing from the umbilical cord this long, I felt aborted.
& All of a sudden, the year that passed me by went flashing in my mind, a year of jobs, moving out followed by the physical pain that comes from age and poor genetics. I became sad thinking that I am no longer connected to my mother in any way that makes me rely on her. No more will she talk to be about doctors and insurance, income tax or phone bills. Slowly but surely, I tight rope walked right off the umbilical cord and into my own life where there would be no one to blame or look for in times of need. Needless to say, this birthday had terrified me more than I had been able to verbalize.
I had said I would not make a big deal of my birthday this year, as I am known to have countdowns, parties, vacations, week-long plans for friends all over the tri-state area. My family jokes that I have a birthday month. This year, I said that in an effort to not become any older, I would not celebrate. Instead, I said maybe a small dinner gathering at my apartment. In all actuality, this entailed more planning than just showing up at any of my favorite bars or restaurants.
& Even though I felt so detached from my mother, I felt her flowing through me. I looked up recipes, made list after list after list of what I needed and which store I would purchase it from, creating a budget for myself and checking in with guests on what they’d bring so I could coordinate my menu. I took a day off before hand and cleaned my apartment, shopped for everything I needed and began food prepping. Although, my mother was across the country taking care of some family business, I felt her there with me. My mom is the event planner of the century, she has a beautiful home, always decorated beautifully and after years of being her right hand, I covered all bases, following all of her lessons.
In the end, I had, in fact, made quite a big deal of my birthday, employing the help of the men in my life, my brothers and wonderful partner. & Although, at midnight when I felt alone and forgotten, I tried to remind myself that sometimes in your adult life, that people do not worry about you because you should be the only one concerned with yourself. While I had a difficult time with myself that morning, letting stress, anxiety and the need for love get the best of me, I was reminded of the woman I had become, the woman I have tried to emulate for so long.
“I want my mommy”, is not exactly a phrase I am accustomed to. Growing up, I described my mother as strong and cold and when she soothed me, she was actually pretty rough and expected her own strength in me. Often, I felt disappointed that I was described as fragile, sensitive and overly emotional. My mother was not any of those things. I have reached a place where I can say, she is my bestfriend and nowadays, when I cry, I can only think of my mother and how badly I need her.
My boyfriend asked me that morning, what it was she does to calm me and I realized that she would hold me, wipe my face and give me a different perspective and let me know that everything would be okay. I looked at this man, bearded, worn, builder and fixer of everything, who towers above me with strong arms that take me in, shakes me, and wipes it all away. I saw my mother there with me and in me.
I washed my face and took on the day finally welcoming my 26th year on this earth. When everyone arrived, appetizers were out, trays of food were warmed by sternos & I welcomed everyone into my apartment in gorgeous brown vintage heels. I thought this year I would stay 25 and call it a sequel, afraid of adulthood, but I have to say that at the end of it all, I have never been happier to have grown another year.
I have wonderful friends, an amazing family and a loving man by my side. My mother told me not to try and be like her but to try and be better than her, and I must admit that on the night of my birthday, looking gorgeous, with everyone’s bellies and glasses full, I knew I would have made my mother proud. More importantly, I think that I could finally say that I am happy with where I am and with who I have become. Look Ma, no hands and it only took 26 years.