Saturday on Facebook, I posted a sublime little message which read, "Love, acceptance, and joy: I need nothing because I have everything. This weekend marks my best birthday yet. Cocoon, catharsis, butterfly."
There is a lot to be said for recognizing satisfaction. I often complain that I don't have a real social life (Going out with friends? What's that?) and that my current job pays terribly and will not allow for greater professional growth. This weekend, I learned none of that matters as much as the ability to connect with family.
Celebrating my oldest step-daughter's college graduation, 18 of us flanked a set of tables at a seafood restaurant near the water in a town associated with happy memories for many of us. Included in our group were my husband and his two girls, my children, my in-laws, and my husband's former wife, her gentleman companion, and her parents. Watching all of this work together, I was moved to complete gratitude and joy. This is what other families strive to achieve: the occasional blissful merging of family post-divorce for the celebration of life that continues despite those familial break ups. And better yet, we were all genuinely pleased to see each other.
This moment was a mammoth blessing of grace for a second reason, which is that I realized my children really do have what I previously thought they were missing. I grew up surrounded by a clan of cousins on my father's side who were like brothers and sisters. We saw each other most Sundays and every holiday. Good news? We told family members first. Having a birthday? Share it with cousins, aunts, and uncles whose candles sport the same cake as yours. I have worried that my children would be permanently and negatively affected by the last several nomadic years and divorce. As it turns out, family has simply multiplied for them.
While I like to think I am a happy person, I am often very conflicted about work and motherhood and the merging of those two things. Having been forced to confront painful things about myself and the people I love (or once loved), the last few years have been quite a challenge. But here I feel an emergence from the cocoon I built to process all these things, and as part of the renewal process, something else was being created this past weekend: a warm, loving link to the woman that was once married to my husband.
I cannot begin to express how accepted I felt among this clan of people who are still largely new to my life. I am eternally grateful to my step-daughter's mother for the gift of her children. This birthday, my 39th, I celebrate love.