It's my birthday! It's my forty second birthday.
Thirty years ago, I was turning 12, the summer before 7th grade.
Twenty five years ago, I turned 17 and got my license to drive.
Twenty years ago, I turned 22 and was about to start my first year teaching.
Fifteen years ago, I turned 27 and would get engaged that year.
Ten years ago, I turned 32 and had a 9 month old baby son.
Seven years ago, I turned 35 and left kindergarten for third grade.
Two years ago, I turned 40 and had a fun summer celebrating this milestone.
One year ago, I turned 41 during a global pandemic and enjoyed dinner out in a restaurant for the first time in months.
What will this year bring? 365 days to learn, grow, evolve and celebrate. Happy Birthday to me!
My mom and my children made my birthday cake.
Cocktail from dinner out with my husband.
It is the last week of the 20-21 school year and I am crawling to the finish line. Part of my "to-do" list in this last week is to give gifts to all the people who have made this year memorable, including my students, my colleagues, and my own children's teachers. But as I shopped and put gifts together, it dawned on me that there was an extremely important person I was forgetting to thank- my mom.
My mom has come every school day by 7:15 am to help my kids get ready for school while I head off to work. She does it with love and generosity. In the cold, dark winter and every season in between. When we got our puppy in December, she added much work to her day by puppy sitting for most of the school day. If she hadn't wanted to help, I don't know how we would have figured out life with our puppy. Not only did she agree to help our puppy , she completely fell in love with him and treated him like a new grandchild! Besides all that, she often does loads of our laundry. She buys groceries when we run out of items the kids always need. She makes Alex and Megan feel happy and loved every day before they go to school. She is Teddy's favorite friend.
I just can't say how much my mom does for us. I tried to capture it with the following poem, which I will give her tomorrow with some grateful gift cards too for fun summer shopping. She deserves it all and more.
Here is the poem I will give her:
For all the times you woke up in the early morning to get to us by 7:15,
For the countless lunches and snacks you packed,
For all the notes and drawings you made on brown bags,
For the masks you put on mask holders and set out near backpacks
For all the chrome books you unplugged and packed
For all the hair you brushed and styled
For all the socks you set out near sneakers
For all the breakfasts you made and glasses of orange juice you poured
For all the walks across the street in all weather
For all the laundry you sorted and washed
For all the baskets of laundry you folded
For all the groceries I ran out of and you replenished
For all the costumes you put together when I needed them at the last minute
For all the love and care you gave when puppy Teddy arrived
For all the walks you took Teddy on
For all the poop you had to scoop
For all the chicken you cooked and shredded for him
For all the times you tossed his snake, playing fetch
For all the afternoons you stayed in my house so Teddy wouldn’t be lonely
For all the times you listened and gave encouraging words
For all the times you came up with a solution for every problem.
For all the times you came to soccer games and special events
For being the glue that held us together
For all the unseen acts of love and kindness you perform each day
We couldn’t do this without you
We love you and are so grateful for you.
Thank you for helping us through this pandemic school year.
Happy Summer Vacation!
Alex. Megan and Teddy at the end of the 20-21 school year.
"It's not getting what you want....but wanting what you got."
-Sheryl Crow, "Soak Up the Sun"
There are those who have bigger houses than mine, with sprawling yards and in-ground pools, hot tubs and fancy outdoor bars. There are those who have second homes near the beach. There are those who have perfect figures and perfectly white, straight teeth and perfect hair. They show all the perfection in their full-length mirror in their gigantic walk-in closet. There are those who have risen to the top of their career and are making oodles of money while looking like a supermodel and being adorably self-deprecating.
I see them all on Instagram. Or my Facebook feed. Or sometimes in person.
And it's so easy to get caught up in all the things I'm not. In all the things I don't have. In all the ways I don't measure up.
I see my children noticing how some of their friends have much bigger houses than ours, or have beautiful pools, or lights that change colors in their basement turned arcade. Or they see their friends taking trips to Disney and all inclusive resorts and beach houses.
The line from the Sheryl Crow song, "Soak Up The Sun" has been speaking to me: "It's not getting what you want but wanting what you got." The experts say that having a grateful attitude is important for mindset and happiness.What do I have? What is good and right in my life? What little joys can I appreciate?
There are so many.
Petting my puppy after his grooming and noticing how soft his fur is.
Sugar free caramel syrup in my decaf coffee
A swing in my backyard and noticing my hydrangeas are starting to bloom
My mom walking up to my door every morning to help me get the kids to school.
Laughing with my children
Watching Schitts Creeks with my husband and laughing together
A Voxer message from a friend
Being able to teach in person
Working with children every day
Reading to my children at night
The promise of summer
Of course, I haven't scratched the surface. There is so much to appreciate in what I already have, in who I already am. I want whatI've got and I'll keep soaking up the sun.
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski