The Story of a Birthday

I went to Krispy Kreme to pick up donuts for the birthday breakfast. But Krispy Kreme had a sign on the door that said, “A key component in our machinery has broken, keeping us from making our Delicious Donuts today. We apologize the inconvenience.”

I stood there and thought, well I don’t need the Delicious ones, so how about any other variety of your donuts? Oh, you’re referring to your entire menu as Delicious Donuts. So that means the entire donut idea is shot. And this sent me to the grocery store, whose donuts pale in comparison. And believe me, I heard complaints about this two-bit second choice from the boys who were still home alone. Never mind that their mother went to two places to find chocolate glazed and maple cream sticks.

I think one of the things I miss the most are the words, “Don’t speak to your mom that way.” “Did you like your meal? Then say thank you to your mom.” “Excuse me, show some respect. Because she’s my wife.” it’s hard to demand respect without a model to show what it looks like. And there’s something about a dad’s voice. Just something.

And it’s a birthday.  Can’t we all just get along for the sake of the fact that I was seriously uncomfortable eight years ago right now??  Epidurals for everyone, I say.

I don’t know why we can’t get out the door for school. But it makes me crazy. And when it was time to go, one child was still in his pajamas, no shoes or socks on. I seriously picked him up and carried him to the car. Told him to figure out a way to get dressed with his seatbelt on. I grabbed crocs on my way out the door, which he protested because he had PE today and wouldn’t be able to participate since he didn’t have the right shoes on.

I said, “Well, you had a whole hour, kiddo. A whole hour to find the right footwear. When the gym teacher asks today why you wore the wrong shoes, don’t you DARE tell him that your mom made you wear those, wouldn’t find the right ones, or anything else that makes it sound like your irresponsibility is my fault.”

I want to enjoy these children. With all of my heart, I want to.

I did the birthday shopping this afternoon, at a place that will wrap them for me. I used to wrap gifts – quite beautifully, actually. But that has gone by the wayside along with a million other things I used to do well – like grocery shop and plan a menu and cook.

Anyway, I chose airplanes, a collection of football figures, Legos, a couple of small games that I always think I’ll play with them when I buy them, and a kit to build your own robots.
The box promised ‘easy assembly.’ You’d think I would have learned by now.

I have to say: following directions and putting things together is a huge trigger for me. I can just feel the anxiety building. It’s not that that’s a man’s job, it’s just that it wasn’t my job. Robb thought like an engineer, and things like this were so fascinating to him. Now I’m learning words like ‘motor space’ and ‘chassis’ and ‘locate a small screwdriver before you begin.’ Where the stink is this small screwdriver? And on which freaking blessed side does the chassis go?

I tried. I read the directions, I studied the pictures, and Tucker, bless his heart, was so patient. I finally set it all down and said, “I’m sorry, buddy. I can’t do this. I’m sorry that I can’t.” He put his hands on my shoulder and said, “It’s okay, Mommy. Really.”

It’s just not, though, buddy. It’s not. It’s your big birthday gift and you can’t play with it.

Thankfully I came through with three Wii games, and he didn’t even mind that I hadn’t wrapped them. Those are distracting everyone until I can find that little blessing of a screwdriver.

Now I have a dog who is marking his territory in about 14 places in my house, and he’s humping anything that will stand still. Seriously. He reminds me of these boys who are sneaking peeks at your girls’ backsides. Can’t get him neutered fast enough.

Perhaps in another land, far, far away, maybe even in a parallel universe, it would not make a difference in my son’s first grade memories if I did not make an appearance at his field trip today. At a farm. In the rain.

Sometimes, it feels like the systems in my life are too many to change.  Like turning a massive ship with a small rudder.  My sweet friend reminded me this morning: “It’s a large marble slab, and you’ve been given a chisel.  It takes a lot of slow, careful chipping away before it’s finished.  But underneath is a masterpiece.”

Banking on that.  And breaking my nails as I chisel my fingers to the bone.

Grumpy Face


Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. I’m sorry, I tried to hold it in, but at the line “Those are distracting everyone until I can find that little blessing of a screwdriver.
    Now I have a dog who is marking his territory in about 14 places in my house,” a laugh erupted out of my belly, causing my husband to question my sanity once again.
    Bless you for using your God given gifts to bring laughter, tears and other good and honest emotions.

  2. You are incredible. A friend introduced me to your blog earlier this month, and I have passed on this link to so many others. I appreciate your humor, your amazing way with words, and the courage you show to your little guys, but most of all I admire your heart breaking honesty as you share the impact of your loss. Praying for you, and sending you a hug from a new girlfriend who’d love to share coffee with you this morning.

  3. How about “first to commiserate”?

    • I feel your pain.

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