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Tomorrow is my birthday and I feel like celebrating! I feel like doing it from the couch, with my feet up, while sipping mint tea. I feel like doing it on the warm, bright living room side of the rain-drenched windows, and I feel like doing it in the company of my warm, bright family.
Let’s see: I asked my husband for a birthday present (a watering can to save our last four houseplants!). I called a local bakery and ordered myself a strawberry birthday cake (me, a woman who make cakes from scratch every time I hear someone somewhere might be planning to have a birthday!). And that’s about it. I don’t have to run around all day and drink champagne all night to turn 33, do I? Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have a day to celebrate myself, I just plan to do it quietly.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to celebrate. This past year, I really focused on feeding our family with real food, from home. I care more than ever about where the food we eat comes from, and how it’s prepared, and I think we’ve eaten a better, more sustainable diet as a result. In fact, I’m shocked by how much less we’ve eaten out.
Last summer I finished my M.A., with Leo and my mom in tow. I still don’t know how I managed to earn that degree, how I even managed to stay awake in my classes, but somehow, I did the work. I’ve done a lot of work this year come to think of it. I’ve worked at home and in an office. I spent days and weeks almost entirely with Leo and days and weeks almost entirely without him. I’ve begun to think of myself as an independent adult again, with all the responsibilities and opportunities for growth that come along with that. And this spring we signed Leo up for full-time preschool and learned how happily he could wave bye-bye in the morning. This, my second year of motherhood, was the year in which I really fell in love with being this mom to this boy in this family, in ways I couldn’t have when I was newer at the whole thing, and Leo was younger and less of a participant in our family life. This year I think I became a more graceful mom, and learned to enjoy it more.
Tomorrow I’ll drop Leo off in the rain, head to work, munch a smoked salmon and avocado sandwich at my desk, then pick up my cake on the way home. Aaron is making dinner and our neighbors are coming over to help celebrate. I checked the weather and it looks like we’ll have a few more days of torrential rain and then really warm sunny spring days ahead. It’s always like this around my birthday. The perfect time of year to take stock, and look forward.
Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer and cookbook editor and co-author of The Flexitarian Table. Food Editor and blogger for The Faster Times, she tries not to eat for two now that her son is a toddler.