~Dr. Seuss’ Happy Birthday To You!
June 21st, truly, was the longest day of the year…of cleaning. We delayed our spring cleaning until it was officially over; instead choosing to do it on the summer solstice. From the break of dawn through the wee hours of the 22nd the hubs and I actually detailed our home. It had been years. Sadly, I think the last time we attempted to clean our house was in June of 2011 just prior to the imminent arrival of my bff and family from the Midwest. But an asphyxiation delayed our house cleaning adventure and so we’ve picked up two years later.
If you ask my middle son what he’ll remember most on his birthday, June 21st, he’ll remember the fumes of Easy Off and Chlorox Bleach. The house was in total disarray and the boys, happily, stayed out of mom and dad’s way and closed themselves off in electronics central aka the den. The hubs tired of hearing me whine, night-after-night, how we arrive home to a messy house. And, thus, our summer began.
During our unplanned cleaning venture I found various ways to procrastinate. While dusting the coffee table I perused my picture books; then the various collectible frames with pictures from our travels. Most days I walk past them as they collect thick layers of dust, en route to more pressing matters like: dinner, laundry, dishes. I stared at the picture of our family in 2006 next to the very same tree we just visited last weekend. Two young boys stood beside me, in the snow, and a baby was cradled in my baby Bjorn. That baby turned 8 today, June 23rd, and the middle son, 11.
And so I dug out our birthday books, a tradition each birthday; my three sons and hubs crammed onto our couch as I read the books: Happy Birthday to You! by Dr. Seuss, and two board books by my fave author, Sandra Boynton: The Birthday Monsters and Happy Birthday Little Pookie. Some of these books are memorized and I noted my sons muttered with my same cadence; remembering. It never ceases to amaze me how my boys comment on the bold colors on the pages as if seeing them for the first time; finding new nuances to Dr. Seuss’ imagery and rhymes. We have owned and read two of these books since my eldest son was a baby. Reading. It is one of the gifts I hope to pass down with my progeny.
Sitting in the pew at church this morning I was jolted out of my reverie when our priest began talking about identities. He shared with our congregation how, eight years ago, his cardiologist told him to stop living as a priest and to live life. What is he saying? He is a priest. He spoke of how people ask him for character references all the time but he wonders to himself, do I really know this person? Do they know me? And who am I? Just because he is a man of cloth does not make him perfect. He needed to figure out who he was and what he, not the priest or Catholic doctrine, but he, stood for. Since this has been a quest of my own for quite some time I listened intently for the 25 minute sermon. Most people nodded off around me, my own kids included, but I heard his message. The phrase from Dr. Seuss’ book came to mind.
“I am I!”
Father Tom was trying to relate to the Gospel reading as Jesus came from praying. He asked his apostles who they thought he was and they had various opinions. When one mentions he is the Messiah, the savior, Jesus asks that they keep this knowledge to themselves. Wouldn’t you want to shout out off the rooftops and let everyone else know? I mean, that’s what most people do. They want everyone to see their accomplishments and their worth; their works. I was trying to figure this all out in my head.
This memory came unbidden. While cleaning on Friday I was using a bristle brush on my countertop grout, my hands cramped from clenching and scrubbing; fumes making me dizzy. I felt like the end was not in sight; the work overwhelming. One can never sit on their laurels because there is so much more work to be done. The sermon wound its way round in my head. I am always evolving, never stagnant. My boys continue to grow taller and away from me. Though I am realizing who I am and what I want from life; it will always change. The constant in life is change. And the way to tread through this journey is to learn to transition with grace; knowing what is important and letting go of things that are not. When I walk this life I must do it with sure-footed steps. And the key to all this. Self-worth. The belief that I have value. This, too, I must pass down through my children.
When I got to the phrase, “I am I!” in our birthday book the boys had to recite it in a clear voice. One son says it loud; the other in a sing-song voice. Our summer season is bound by the birthdays of our sons. Two of the boys start off the season, the eldest’s birthday closes it with fall. I’m looking forward to the timeline between these milestones. Hello summer!