All of a sudden, I’m feeling old.
Because there’s a birthday coming up.
No, not mine.
It’s Daughter Francesca’s birthday, on Feb. 7th. And you know what, it’s making me feel older.
My own birthday was July 1, and on the last one, I turned 64.
Even though that’s a song, it didn’t make me feel old at all.
I still feel like myself. And in my head, I’m 6.
Somehow my own birthdays don’t affect me, but it’s startling to realize I have a daughter about to turn 34.
How is that even possible?
I can remember changing her diaper.
I can even remember burping her.
When those memories are so fresh, it’s impossible to believe I’m so stale.
Can I be the only mother who feels this way?
That my own birthday doesn’t age me, but my daughter’s does?
I should’ve seen this coming.
Lately I’ve been noticing that I never call her my “kid” anymore.
At first I had to try to stop doing it, but now it doesn’t even occur to me.
She’s not anybody’s kid anymore, even mine.
She’s a grown-ass adult, and I’m proud of her in every way. This year is a special one because she has her first novel coming out, in May, Ghost of Harvard.
Baby’s First Book.
We joke that she had to have an author photo, so we called it Baby’s First Author Photo. And this week, she’s going to be on a panel at a library conference, and we called it Baby’s First Panel.
That’s how we are.
Funny, if repetitive.
But her upcoming birthday is something different altogether.
If she’s old, so must I be.
Which got me thinking about the things that make me feel old, even if I don’t actually feel old. Maybe it’s more accurately put, the things that make me realize I’m old, even though I feel young, but anyway enough.
One of those things was when Bob Dylan turned 70.
What is it with other people’s ages?
When Bob Dylan turned 70, I almost fell over.
I wasn’t a Dylan fan until later in life, but I developed a crush on him when I was menopausal.
Meanwhile if anybody deserves to be forever young, it’s Bob Dylan.
And also I realized that my crush on Bradley Cooper is probably getting creepy.
Of course I’m kidding about him, but kind of not. Still, the bottom line is that at age 45, Bradley Cooper is way too young for me.
But he’s perfect for my daughter, and I would be the most fun mother-in-law ever.
So you see I try to look on the bright side of things.
Now that Francesca is 34, I don’t have to find her pacifier.
She’s already pacified.
I’m the one who isn’t.
I’m the one who needs calming.
But really, I do know there’s cause for celebration.
I love her, and I’m amazed by the woman that she has become.
She’s funny and smart and kind, and she’s lived in New York City for 10 years, all on her own.
I like New York, but I’m not sure I could survive 10 days.
Every time I go up there, she has to lead me around like a Sherpa, only better-dressed.
She tries to teach me the subway system by showing me the map, which looks like a plate of spaghetti.
And we negotiate all manner of adult miracles, like swiping Metro cards, ordering dinner by Seamless, and getting show tickets at the last minute, for half-price.
Baby knows how to budget.
And she knows what she wants in this life.
And she goes about getting it, while always thinking of others, including me.
Come to think of it, I’m not sure there is a better gift a mother could get than celebrating her daughter’s birthday.
I love her and know how lucky I am in her.
And I know how lucky I am in general, because there are mothers who may have lost their daughter or son, and who wish they could celebrate just one more birthday with them, but for some reason, they cannot.
My heart goes out to them.
And it’s full of gratitude for my own blessings, and good fortune.
Happy Birthday, Francesca.