I have a dreaded December birthday. My husband Derek always tells me, “You December birthday’s have such a chip on your shoulder about being born around Christmas.”
It’s true. I admit it. I have a chip-a large one! So large that when we decided to start a family I made sure all of my kids were born on the exact opposite end of the calendar from me. You’re welcome.
This year is a big one. It is my 30th. Yes there has been a lot of reflection mumbo jumbo. However, for the past 10 years I have always done the same two things on my birthday. I’ve always written myself a personal letter and read a poem by William Stafford. This tradition started when I turned 20. I was living in Paris as a college student. It was the ending/beginning of a new decade and this little tradition was created in that charming 7th floor apartment. Complete with mansard roof and an incredible view of the Bastille.
Today I did the same two things in my home in Utah. However, I have decided to share with you the letter I wrote my 20 year old self along with the letter I wrote my 30 year old self this morning.
20th Birthday Letter
I turned 20 today. I am in Paris, where I’ve been living for the year. Even the weather acts old here and I have created a piece of home that I will forever reach for. It has enlarged my experiences, thoughts, and emotions along with my strength. This is my first Birthday on my own and for the first time I feel it more valid to express my appreciation to my mom, who equally shares this day with me.
Maman je t’aime vers la lune.
Vous etes jeune et avez le monde a explorer. Ne vous pressez pas.
Vous avez toutes les chances qu’une vie d’amour peut donner.
I am going to be very sad if years from now you re-read this and have no idea what you wrote because you’ve forgotten all your French! You dream in French now, I hope you always do.
30th Birthday Letter
You’ve cried for the first time over this birthday. For the first time you’ve felt your youth has passed. The adventurer was born into a mother. Which has been your best work by far. Take a deep breath of renewal. A new decade is here. You’re 30.
At times you lost yourself-deeply lost yourself. But I’ve got a feeling now that you’ve been so lost you will always be found. You’ve begun to understand where your center is. What you are centered in. Which means you will know where to go back to when things get off balance. Like knowing where your home is.
Take a deep breath. Every cell in you is always renewing itself. You were born perfect and brave. To feel the world in and around you. Let these passions and adventures renew you and keep you.
I’m holding you in never ending X’s and O’s. I love you.
And for extra credit reading, the William Stafford poem
There is a country to cross you will
find in the corner of your eye, in
the quick slip of your foot–air far
down, a snap that might have caught.
And maybe for you, for me, a high, passing
voice that finds its way by being
afraid. That country is there, for us,
carried as it is crossed. What you fear
will not go away: it will take you into
yourself and bless you and keep you.
That’s the world, and we all live there.