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Thirty Two

Today is my 32nd birthday.

I'm at home with my little Bug, due for lunch with friends in a couple of hours and awaiting the arrival of a friend from Los Angeles later today. 

I'm making myself a birthday cake this afternoon and we'll have a quiet dinner here at home tonight. Tomorrow night a big group of us are going out to dinner.

All in all, a nice birthday. A really nice birthday.

I don't always like my birthdays. Ever since my parents died birthdays have always made me a little sad. And I get it now, more than ever. My birthday was a big day for them too, and not having them here to reflect and rejoice on this anniversary with me makes the day feel a lot less important than it should.

When I was in Atlanta last weekend I had dinner with a friend of my mom's. At one point she remarked on how special I was to my mom.

Oh, I said, all babies are special to their moms.

That's true, she said, but you were something else. Your mom loved you SO much, she said. I don't know if it was because she had you later in life, or if it was because you were her only one, but you meant more to her than I think most kids means to their parents.

My father had always said something similar about how my mother felt about me.

She was forty when I was born. My parents had been married for two and a half years. They met on a blind date, had a whirlwind romance. My father whisked my mother out of New York City and took her down to Atlanta.

They began trying pretty early to have a baby. My father was in his mid-fifties and already had three grown children but he knew that my mother wanted to have a baby more than anything. And he loved her something fierce.

I knew that having a baby would change her life, he always told me.

She miscarried her first pregnancy and was devastated. My father claims that she didn't speak to him for 2 weeks.

Sometimes I think about those two weeks, about the thoughts that went through her head. My mother hadn't always had an easy time of it. She had made her series of life mistakes. She had regrets. She had unfulfilled hopes.

I imagine they all surfaced when she lost that first baby.

But eventually she got pregnant. With me.

Her water broke in the middle of the night and I was born just after 2 in the afternoon the following day.

She'd been sure that she was having a boy. I wish I could ask what my name would have been.

The doctor said I would have expensive feet because they were so long and slender. He should have just said that I would have expensive taste and left it at that. 

I don't know if my parents ever tried for another baby. I wish I could ask.

Whatever the case, I'm glad I'm here. And I know they are too.



  1. Happy Birthday, Claire. You have a husband and baby that love you something fierce.

    Comment by Greg_Boose on May 21, 2010 at 10:10 am

  2. Thanks, GTB.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on May 21, 2010 at 10:19 am

  3. And friends that love you something fierce too.

    Comment by Liz on May 21, 2010 at 11:15 am

  4. And even a whole bunch of people you’ve never even met!
    Happiest of birthday hugs from here :-)

    Comment by Carroll on May 21, 2010 at 11:27 am

  5. Happy birthday Claire!
    V and Greg are so lucky to have you!

    Comment by Shana on May 21, 2010 at 12:01 pm

  6. Happy birthday!!

    Comment by Susan on May 21, 2010 at 1:28 pm

  7. Aw, thanks Shana!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on May 21, 2010 at 3:32 pm

  8. Thanks!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on May 21, 2010 at 3:33 pm

  9. Thanks, Carroll!!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on May 21, 2010 at 3:34 pm

  10. Thank you, dear.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on May 21, 2010 at 3:34 pm

  11. Happy birthday! I still can’t get over how much the way you write about your life moves me, and has taught me so much about my own life. No wonder so many people love you! Glad you’ve had a lovely day.

    Comment by Sophie on May 22, 2010 at 4:04 am

  12. Thats so nice to hear, thank you!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on May 22, 2010 at 9:35 am

  13. Claire hope you had a fantastic birthday! It definitely sounds like you had an amazing day…
    Sending you lots of love and hugs all the way from here :)

    Comment by Aeshna on May 24, 2010 at 11:58 pm

  14. Aw, thanks Aeshna!!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on May 25, 2010 at 8:53 am

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