Make your birthday a thanksgiving

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Warning: sickeningly soppy.

Twenty-eight years ago, as she was reading The Lord Of The Rings at 1am in her home in Belfast, my mother felt the contractions that announced the birth of her firstborn child.

Now I’m sitting in the sofa bed in her living room in the south of France next to a Belgian geek, having the cover on my feet kneaded by a very contented cat. I spent last night with my boyfriend, my mum and my middle-younger sister drinking pumpkin beer and eating far too many lychees, and I’m going to see my little-younger sister today, too, and surprisingly, I seem to have broken the trend that I’ve had since I turned twenty of getting really depressed on New Year’s Day. I’m pretty sure this has something to do with the conversation I had yesterday with said boyfriend, Clém, who simply suggested that I stop seeing my birthday as a mark of the passage of time and therefore a warning that I’m that much closer to getting old and dying, and if I want to have kids/publish a book/write a song/create a webcomic (and stick to it)/travel the world, I need to get on with it before it gets more difficult due to age and aforementioned kids.

Instead, he said, I should think of it as what it is: the celebration of the day I was born, and therefore, of the fact that I exist.

It sounds very egocentric, doesn’t it? Even though it’s quite the opposite, really. I am glad I exist, because I’m actually quite happy. I may be jobless, mostly unqualified, childless and unpublished for now, but at the moment, those things are actually providing opportunities for me to fulfil my dreams. And slowly but surely, I’m becoming the kind of person who acts instead of simply dreaming, and I’m both proud of the progress I’ve made and thankful to everyone who helped me get there. Thanks, therefore, to my sisters for making sure I did not remain a spoilt brat, my dad, my aunt Pauline, my family on both sides. Thanks to the bullies of my childhood who taught me that life is not a Disney movie (also: you have no power over me), and thanks to the friends who taught me that be that as it may, not everyone is a total dick. Thanks to my good teachers for teaching me interesting stuff, and to my bad teachers for teaching me that I should not blindly believe what I’m taught. Thanks to Ireland for giving me a heritage, to Manchester for making me an open-minded person, to Grenoble for making me like mountains, and to Belgium for looking a bit like Ireland only different. Thanks to the new friends I’ve made recently for making me feel at home in a new country, and to the old ones. Thanks facebook, without you I wouldn’t be able to stay in contact with so many wonderful people. Thanks to my ex for helping me to grow and realise what I really want in life, and to my current boyfriend for relentlessly encouraging me to get it, and for his stubborn, unshakeable belief in abilities I’m starting to believe I might have. Thank you forgotten classmates, past employers, passing acquaintences, and that boy in the year below me who I used to do library duty with.

But since this is a celebration of the day I was born, today I’m mostly thankful towards the person who brought me into this world. Thanks Mum. I love you.

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