Today you're thirty-three.
That's thirty years older than you were when you broke your collar bone, twenty-five years older than you were when your youngest brother was born, nineteen years older than you were when you started high school, and eleven years older than you were when you got married.
That's a lot of years.
By now I thought you'd be doing great things.
Michael Jackson would have released thrilled when he was nine years younger. Paul McCartney would have already left The Beatles five years ago. Jesus was your age when he died.
Now....it's time to stop feeling sorry for yourself. Time to stop feeling sad that your right knee hurts when you sit on the ground, or that you can't jump up and down without feeling like you're going to pee your pants. So you're not jet-setting around the world and photographing for National Geographic like you told your senior seminar class you would in college. Stop whining. Your life is great exactly how it is.
It's time to open what I've gotten you. Now don't go looking for wrapping paper. I've got three kids and no income...there will be no wrapping paper. Sit down. Close your eyes. Accept your gifts.
First...The gift of letting go. You don't know where you're going to be, or what you're going to do in six months. Let it go. It will work out. It will be exactly what you are supposed to be doing. It will be exactly where you are supposed to be living. Let it go. Let go of it. Release. It's no longer yours.
Second...The gift of idleness. For goodness sake, but idle. Take a nap. Watch a movie. Stop being a spaz. Guess what, no one wants to hang out with a spaz. Put on your stretchy pants, fuzzy socks and get your idle on like it's the last chance to idle in your entire life. You think your kids are keeping you from this gift? Three letters - DVD. Done. A little Disney on a school night never killed anyone.
Third...The gift of forgetting. It's so easy for you to dwell on things and to hold a secret grudge. If I've ever met anyone that can hold onto things as long as you, I haven't known it. Guess who gets an ulcer when you hold a secret grudge? I can tell you that it's not the person you're holding the grudge against. Today I want you to take those things that are weighing on your heart...the things this week that made you mad, or hurt, or insecure. I want you to put them in your hand, squeeze it shut as tight as you can until those things ooze out from between your fingers. Then I want you to go wash your hands and watch everything disappear down the drain. What was it you were forgetting? Ahhh... that was a test. I hope you passed.
Fourth...The gift of being sad. You're sad sometimes. Be sad. Don't try to hide it until it turns into something really ugly like bitterness or animosity. I know you hate your "ugly cry." I promise your "ugly jerk-face" is much worse.
Fifth...The gift of sticking up for your kids. I can see you hate bragging about your kids because you don't want to be "that parent." Because they are an extension of yourself, you blow off their goodness, like you would blow off your own when you're talking to others. Their goodness is not your goodness. Stop acting like it isn't awesome. Start sticking up for them like you really want to. I give you permission to celebrate their awesomeness without following it with some humbling remark. They aren't you. You are allowed to celebrate them and remember how amazing they are - even if it is just between you and their father. Even if it's just in your own mind.
Sixth, and perhaps the most important, most expensive, and most difficult for me to give to you...the gift of imperfection. Be imperfect. Suck at things. Laugh at yourself. Mess up and then say you're sorry. Admit defeat. Celebrate mistakes. Stop expecting so much perfection out of everyone else because they're just as imperfect as you. Relish it.
Happy Birthday Kid. Here's to 33 more.