It seems odd to celebrate my birthday right now. The pandemic still sweeping the world has cost people their lives, their loved ones’ lives, their businesses, their income, their homes. The West Coast is literally on fire, including my hometown and places I’ve known and loved my whole life. While my family members have been fortunate in that their homes are still safe and no one has had to evacuate, many others have not been so lucky. My parents haven’t been able to set foot outside for days because the air is so bad at their home, and now the smoke and haze has traveled to Boise as well. I haven’t seen my parents in a full six months and I miss them dearly.

Stargazer lilies in our backyard

And yet, it’s still my birthday. I’m thirty-seven now. I actually have to stop and do the math to figure out my age because it seems such an unimportant thing to keep track of at this point in my life. My head is full with trying to remember when each of my kids needs to log on or off for school, what days and times we have therapy appointments, who wears which shoe size now, whether we’re overdue for a grocery pickup or to throw in a load of laundry. Do we have any more clean masks to wear, or do those need washing too? Age is such a trivial thing compared to all the rest.

Rio Samba rose

I find my birthdays are less about celebration and presents now, and more about reflection and enjoying simple pleasures. Yesterday I was woken up a bit earlier than I was ready for by loud two year old, but then I lingered in bed being snuggled and climbed on by my three younger children for awhile. I reveled in the chance to do some yoga and stretching without interruption. I enjoyed several hot cups of tea. These little things are the gifts I find I enjoy most now.

This rose is called “Best Kept Secret.” It appears white until the bud opens and reveals the pink petals.

I’m thankful for another year. I’m thankful that, despite how ill I was in March and continued health struggles since then, I am still here to be a mother to my children. I am healing, slowly but surely. I am more grateful than words can express for each of my amazing children. With all their challenges, they are my world, my motivation and inspiration, my sun and my moon and all the stars in between. I will have no greater accomplishment in this life than them.

“Poet’s Wife” rose. It has a delicious, almost lemony scent.

So cheers to thirty-seven! The year I learned just how little I actually mind staying home most of the time. The year I learned how precious the ability to get outside every day can be. The year I have valued high-speed WiFi above all other material possessions. The year I’ve wished more than ever I could be doing bedside nursing. The year I’ve been more grateful than ever that I’m able to be at home with my children, caring for them in the safety of our (relatively) germ-free home, supporting them through online schooling. The year of the most contradictory, conflicting feelings about pretty much everything. Cheers to it all!

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