Yesterday was a glorious fall day complete with colorful leaves and a bright blue sky. It also was my 42 birthday and I was thinking something – when you celebrate a birthday, do you celebrate the past 364 days or the next 365 days? And just what do you expect to have happen on your birthday? (Please tell me no one is still being spanked — that one never made sense to me.)
In some ways, yesterday was not the day I expected to experience. And yet, in other ways, it was.
Yesterday was the Columbia Sportswear’s “Muddy-Buddy” and “Mini-Muddy Buddy” race. My husband and a dear friend registered for the race last summer and my kids decided they would also compete in the Mini-Muddy Buddy. Since all children under the age of 7 have to race with a parent, it meant that I was “unofficially” racing as well. We all spent the preceding week getting ourselves ready for the race. New tubes in the mountain bike’s tires, a trip to Goodwill for sweats and sweatshirts that might be impervious to mud stains, you get the picture.
In order to finish prepping for the race, my friends arrived Saturday night and we kicked off our celebration with a trip for Thai food. My friend and my Middlest ventured out with me to buy all the Thai food a person can carry home in white to-go containers. She and I gabbed about jobs and life and Middlest tried to entertain herself by reading the menu several times, memorizing all the art work, et cetera. As we left, bags in hands, Middlest says to me, “Um Mom, back in the restaurant, I think I smelled…you know.”
Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize Middlest wasn’t alluding to something yummy like baclava or chocolate eclairs. But I have to admit I thought she may have meant she sniffed a waft of flatulence. But no, I was wrong.
We get home, we eat enough food to feed at least 18 people and then my friend says, “Oh crap! I have dog crap on my pants!”
I immediately peer at Charlie, the poor maligned mutt who is usually blamed for all things nasty. No, no poop issues from him as far as I can tell.
And then my uber-sleuthing skills kick in when I notice the grand-daddy of dog turds squished on the sole of Friend’s shoe.
Let’s pause so we can all appreciate this moment. Friend is wearing her brand-new super-awesome Danskos. In fact, they are so cute I may have to go buy myself a birthday present that looks just like them. They remind me of my dad’s cowboy boots from back when I was a whipper-snapper. You’ll notice the distinctive sole on these attractive Danskos. Now notice how if a person were to step in a big ole pile of dog poop in the dark, that said poop would adhere quite nicely in the concave area of the shoe’s sole.
Now, please also picture a very small best friend. One who makes my 5’2″ self look much taller than I truly am. Yep, my bestie is not the tallest girl on the block, just the sweetest. And you may know that short people dislike having their feet dangle when sitting on a chair. My friend is no different. So during the dinner table preparations, and the post-dinner conversing, Friend was sitting on a bar stool with her poop-infused shoe sole resting on the stool’s cross-bar. Yes, there was stool on my stool.
So Middlest was right. She was smelling something less than savory while waiting for my favorite Thai place to whip up the Pad Thai and Angry Prince. But who expects to need to look for dog poop when walking on city sidewalks? Is that what Mad Eye Moony warned us to have constant vigilance against? Maybe so.
It ended up that I stood out on my porch with a toothpick, old toothbrush and soapy water, de-pooping the brand new Danskos while Friend did a hurried load of laundry and we scrubbed poop off many surfaces.
Not exactly how I expected to spend my night.
Then, the day of the race dawned. Coldly, I might add. Cold as in 40 degrees and foggy. By the time the kids and I arrived at the finish line, all three kids were shivering and looking apprehensive. Finding the guys in their post race glory didn’t help. Yes, they were happy and had a great time. But they were cold. Very, very cold. So cold they didn’t even want to take advantage of the water hoses set up to rinse the mud off of folks post race. Might have had something to do with the fact that it was unheated water.
Their chattering teeth don’t show up in these pictures quite as well as I’d hoped, but you can use your imagination. As it turned out, none of the kiddos were willing to brave the 40 degree air and much colder mud pit. After getting the frozen folk dried off (still muddy, just dried mud) I ran from the parking lot the mile or so to pick up the kids’ race tee-shirts and back to the van. So while I didn’t end up having to Army-crawl through a mud pit on my birthday, I did at least work up a bit of a sweat to warrant my athletic attire. Please note I did get a bit muddy though – the rear tire got me as I loaded the bike into the van. I know, not very impressive.
Here I expected to upload some seriously muddy pictures of myself today – proving what a wacky woman I really am. And instead, I have the merest of mud stains on my leg. In fact, you might mistake those tire tread marks for just weird skin tone or lighting. What a let-down!
So I return to my original questions. Was yesterday a celebration of what has been or what will be? And just how does poop and a lack of mud play into any of this?
The fact is, more times than we care to admit, life is a bit stinky and even rather gross. The trick is accepting such things are a part of a normal life. And sometimes, a person can put a whole lot of energy into preparing for something and it just doesn’t turn out quite like expected.
In the end, the best part of my whole day was as I was giving my Littlest a bath. I asked him what was his favorite part of his day. He looked up at me with that great big smile of his and said, “I love you Mama!” and wrapped his little arms around my neck.
So whether a birthday is celebrating the time you got to have with the people who matter in your life or looking forward to having a whole new year to be with those people, a birthday may really be only an opportunity to look for the best in your life…the love of the people who matter.