I replied, "What?"
He smiled and gave me a kiss. Then added, "It's Ronan's birthday."
I glanced at the clock. 12:08 a.m. Yes, it was Ronan's birthday.
Of course I knew it would be Ronan's birthday, but it felt like the wind was knocked out of me when I heard that sentence. I smiled back at my husband and said, "I'll put the birthday banner up now before we go to bed," and walked toward the kitchen to get it out of the cabinet.
Reaching for the birthday paraphernalia that I always put out on the table when we celebrate a birthday, I felt a twinge of sadness. I felt my throat tighten, and I felt tears begin to well in my eyes.
He'll be twelve.
My baby! How can he be twelve?
The expectations I had as a young mother are nothing like how life turned out. The reality is that life is harder. It's frustrating. And I do go through intense periods of sadness, heartache and grief. I try not to let those emotions get in the way of life, but sometimes they do. Even on a day when we're going to celebrate something exciting like a birthday.
I reached into the cabinet and pulled out the happy birthday cup and the strand of letters that spells Happy Birthday. I carefully set things up on the dining room table knowing that the sight of these items would bring huge smiles when the kids woke up.
Just as the kids have been doing a countdown to Christmas, they've also been counting down to Ronan's birthday. When they were tucked into bed earlier, they were very excited. They knew that it was one more sleep until brother turns twelve.
Smiles, squeals of glee and happiness. Not frustration, worry or heartache. Their emotions are not clouded by the same ones that envelop me. The kids were expecting to celebrate Ronan. To celebrate who he is, and to celebrate what he can do. I knew that the decision to hold onto the twinge of sadness I felt just a few minutes earlier was mine to decide.
Hold onto it, or let it go?
We have no time for sadness today. Today, it's time to celebrate twelve years on the books. Twelve years of living, breathing and learning. Sure these last twelve years have had me facing one challenge after another, but in these twelve years I've had the most honorable role ever imaginable: being mom to one of the most amazing children alive today.
Happy birthday, Ronan. We love you so much!