Last Friday was my birthday, and despite having two sick kids at home who were stir crazy with missing school and out to cause each other bodily harm out of sheer crankiness, I had a great day. I woke up to my two precious little bundles of nonstop chatter bursting into my room, talking over each other in their excitement to wish me a happy birthday, and then describe every present and card waiting for me downstairs. Sure, they’d only seen the cardboard boxes that had come in the mail, and the colored envelopes waiting on the dining room table, but they were so excited that even these paper products were worthy of lengthy descriptions. We headed downstairs and they helped me open everything, running off with the prettiest cards before I’d had a chance to read them and storming my boxes of gifts like demolition experts (luckily I received nothing fragile). They sang “Happy Birthday” to me as I made my morning mocha, sang it again as I checked my email, and sang it again as I fed the dog.
My mom came down to brave the sickies and babysit so hubby and I could head out to celebrate. She came early, just as I was putting the girls down for much-needed naps, and while hubby was still at work. I took advantage of the time to run down the street to Starbucks with my laptop and get a little writing done. During my hour and a half break, I put the finishing touches on the final two chapters of a novel I’ve been writing for the last five months. It’s just the first draft, and I already have ideas for what needs tightening up or loosening up during revision, but it’s the first novel I’ve ever written, so I’m pretty proud of myself. I’ve spent years writing nonfiction, sharing family secrets and telling stories about crazy events in my life, but this novel is complete fiction. Finally, a book I can publish without having to apologize to anyone or warn anyone! I realize that trying to get it published will be a tremendous challenge, but looking back at the discipline it took to crank this 85,000 word novel in just five months, squeezed in around caring for my girls, I feel like I’ve already achieved success. In all my 38 years, it’s the best birthday gift I’ve every given myself.