My daughter crawls into my arms, big brown eyes gazing down into mine that are adjusting to the daylight shining through the crack in our bedroom window shades.
“Good morning, mommy,” she chirps in her soft, sweet almost two-year-old voice. I break a smile and we banter a bit.
She continues, “Happy birthday, mommy.”
My heart skips a beat as she repeats herself, “Happy birthday, mommy.”
My husband has been working out of the house for the last 24-hours, and I can’t make sense of how she would know it’s my birthday today. Perhaps someone mentioned it yesterday, and yet, the first time I have ever her received birthday wishes are perfectly timed.
As our morning routine commences, I feel a hint of magic stirring.
Today is my 39th birthday and perhaps the first I have ever welcomed with such loose plans. There will be no party, dinner or spa day with friends. Yesterday, I let the plans for a last-minute adventure pass.
Most years I can remember, my birthday was a day marked by fun and connection but not without a twinge of anxiety. Who was going to show up? Were things going to go as planned or well or be fun or entertaining? Mostly though, I have as long as I can remember hid how much I hoped the people I loved and cared for were there on my special day. Back when I spent my time running around from one social engagement to another, I did take notice of who reached out or showed up when my day came, as if measuring my self-worth by how loved I felt at the start of a new year.
This 39th birthday felt much different. There was no anxiety. No expectation. Whoever showed up via text, call or in person was enough.
And it seemed that bit of magic that started the day thread its way through. While working on a DIY dining chair project, I ran into dear friends we made in Mexico. And, while walking to the car after a delicious sushi dinner with my husband and daughter, I looked up to exchange a moment with Anne Lamott who was walking the other way. I imagine she’s used to the enthusiastically surprised looks of passerbyers like the one I dawned as our eyes met. She let out a casual, “hello,” and I echoed back, gitty. Even as I recount the greeting, my heart opens, and I feel a bit of energy rush through my body.
So there it is, making room for grace on my 39th birthday. Much of what unfolded that day would have been missed had I manufactured plans and then worried about them. So this year, I open to more – more grace, fewer plans, more space, less attachment, greater presence, less expectation.