Impossible birthday wishes

My son turned 5 today.  We had a great day celebrating his birthday – well, we generally did, although I’m in a bit of a crappy place.  Ugh.  I tried to hang in there for the sake of his birthday and Father’s Day.  I did a reasonably good job of it, if I do say so myself, but any time I had more than a minute to think, the crappy stuff crept in.  So I just kept going.  Kept moving, kept plugging ahead, kept my focus on today as a celebration of my son and my husband.  I’m under no illusion that I’ve fought off the enemy, but I’ll have to work out a more strategic approach tomorrow.  I’m too tired at the moment.

But back to my son…

Over the course of the past year, I’ve joked that I couldn’t wait until he turned 5 and he would be done with all of the difficult, annoying 4 year old behaviors.  As if on the morning of his birthday today, all of the challenging 4 year old behaviors would disappear.  No more whining, no more screaming “FINE!” and stomping to his room, no more waiting until the very last minute to use the bathroom.  Poof!  Gone.  And in their place?  Wonderful, endearing 5 year old behaviors.

Naturally, this isn’t how it works, as evidenced by the plentiful whining today.  But it got me thinking.  What if I could wake up on the morning of my next birthday, and have all of my depression/anxiety/mental garbage disappear?  Poof!  Gone.  And in their place?

Ahh…that’s the question.  What would I want in their place?  How would I want things to be different?


I’d invite a new friend and her family over for dinner.  I wouldn’t care that the floors desperately need to be mopped, and I wouldn’t spend two days obsessing over the perfect food to cook.  (Actually, I wouldn’t obsess much over that – Mediterranean orzo salad is the obvious choice for this time of year!  I’d feature it on the Mental Health Blog Cook-A-Long.)

I’d stand up for myself.  With my parents and my sisters, primarily, to defend my independence and growing sense of self.

I’d take tennis lessons.  I’d buy one of those cute little tennis skirts and wouldn’t care that my thighs really don’t look that great in them.  I’d play matches with people I don’t know, and even if I stunk at tennis as much as I expect, I’d have fun.  Legitimate fun.

I’d open up a fabulous bottle of Cabernet and we’d get reacquainted.  I might then decide that I don’t need to resume my previous relationship with Cabernet – but the brief reunion would be lovely and I wouldn’t feel guilty about its effects on my mental health.

I’d text the woman down the street who is grounded and genuine but I’m always afraid to bother her when she probably has so many more important things to do.  She has five children, after all, and a foreign exchange student as well.  But I wouldn’t worry about those things.  I’d assume that she wants to have lunch with me too.

I’d tell the committee in my head to pack up their bags and head home.  Their services are no longer required.

I’d have more fun with my kids.  I wouldn’t feel my chest constrict any time they ask to “have time together” because I wouldn’t feel my usual pangs of guilt over not doing enough with them, followed by pangs of guilt over feeling guilty that I’m not doing enough with them, or just plain panic that I need time to myself before I explode like a grenade.

I’d really soak up my husband’s love, without putting it through 74 different analyses and filters and all the other stuff that makes me miss his obvious love for me sometimes.

I’d feel joy in every day life.  No one would have to tell me “I think that’s what other people call Joy.”  I’d know it instinctively.  I wouldn’t overthink it, but I also wouldn’t take it for granted either.

I’d volunteer or do something to give support to those who find mental health to be a challenge.  I’d be a source of encouragement and wisdom.  And I’d actually have wisdom!  Lots and lots of wisdom.


What about you?  If you could wake up on your next birthday without the crap that weighs you down today, what would you doHow would you want your life to be different?


11 thoughts on “Impossible birthday wishes

  1. This is definitely something I’d like to think more about. Tennis lessons sound pretty fun. I think you should go for it and wear the short skirt proudly. 🙂 For me, I’d like to obliterate this wall I’ve built between me and other people, which would mean a lot of different things. A social life would be nice.


  2. Sounds like a great way to wake up on your next birthday. I’d settle for having my to do list done. All of it. The elusive reset button. Think I could cope with stuff quite well and keep on top of things if I didn’t have the huge backlog to deal with. Maybe I need to get a temp in.

    Well done for surviving the weekend, hope it gets easier.


    • To do lists…the bane of my existence. I enjoy writing them – it’s the execution of the tasks on them that I find to be such a challenge. I love the idea of the elusive pause and reset buttons!


  3. Sounds like you would have a wonderful birthday! I used to fight my birthdays…aging does that to us. Today, I’m thankful to have another birthday rolling around. My biggest wish would be that I would learn how to embrace each day. Life it. Accept it.


    • I love that wish. I keep banging my head against this concept of acceptance. I know that just saying that, in that way, shows how far I am from reaching it. I just wish someone could give me a map of steps to take to get there…


      • Haha! I saw that I typed life it, so you can see how far I am from actually living it. I’m struggling with self-acceptance. I believe it is attainable.


  4. Here’s a sort of quote from the recently departed Maya Angelou that I think applies here: “When you know better, you do better.” In other words, don’t expect things of yourself that you haven’t learned yet. It’s setting yourself up for disappointment and unhappiness. For a long time during my depression (which is by no means cured…I still take meds and struggle with the same guilt/unhappiness you describe so well), I badgered myself to make the strides and was overwhelmed by anguish when they didn’t happen. Now, I think about it less and notice progress in a sort of “hmm, that’s interesting” way like noticing my dad doesn’t impact me as much during a recent visit or observing that my contentment is more frequent than before. You’ll get there. Just give yourself time, and space.

    Fondly, Elizabeth


    • I like that quote – but find it frustrating at the same time. How will I know when I know better?? I realize that sounds ridiculous 🙂 but I struggle with these things. You’re definitely right that I set myself up for disappointment. I beat myself up when it seems like I’m not making progress. I want a nice linear path to get from A to B. I know, I know – life isn’t like that, but I have to somehow undo 40+ years of believing that. 🙂

      You sound like you really are there in that place of acceptance. I envy that but I understand that you’ve had, and are continuing to have, your journey with all of this. I need to find my way on my own journey, but not by forcing it. I can’t quite wrap my mind around what I should be doing instead, but I’m trying to be more open to new ways of thinking.


      • Do you want to plot the points of your progress on a graph and make a best fit curve purchance? And then maybe do some statistical analysis on them. (yuck, I typed the s word, off to wash my hands now) 😉


  5. Pingback: We Hope To Resume Normal Service At Some Point | A is for Anxiety

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