So tomorrow is my 32nd birthday.

I am sort of ambivalent about it. It’s not any particular milestone. I don’t seem to have any more gray hairs or forgetfulness than I did last year. I do have one more child, some new aches and creaks, maybe even a little more wisdom.

Somehow, I have everything I have ever wanted. Some might call me established. Sometimes, though, I think of myself as boring. Today I was chatting casually with a friend and mentioned this. She had described me as “responsible,” which is pretty accurate on most counts (except, you know, I like to play on Facebook and Livejournal and various blogs instead of doing laundry or finishing my free lance projects). Our conversation prompted her to write a blog entry all about me. When I read it, I was somewhat shocked and deeply touched. What she didn’t know is that I get discouraged, often. I second guess myself a LOT. Even though I have so many blessings, I look at myself as someone with so many shortcomings: I don’t have my “body back” after the babies. I gave up teaching to stay home… was that the right decision? I tick off the ways I am a less than adequate wife/mommy/stepmom/daughter/friend. You know the routine. “We” are all our own worst enemies. “We” see ourselves as the worst possible versions of ourselves. I don’t know why we do that…

So it was a glorious birthday present to read Shannon’s words about me. It was somewhat magical to take just a moment and look at myself through the eyes of someone who sees me as much more admirable than I see myself. And you know what else? Part of growing up, I believe, is that I can actually say: I agree, Shannon. Most of those things she said about me are true. I don’t think it’s bragging… I do agree that I love people, I want to make friends and make things comfortable or better for others. I treasure my family. I am a pretty good juggler of “stuff.”

Now I am going to really ramble… but Saturday night, we went to see Marley and Me. I won’t go down the road of what a touching movie it was or the parallels I was drawing between the journey of the characters and my own life. But I will say, at one moment when the Jennifer Aniston character was having a Very Familiar Mommy Meltdown, that part of me actually thought: How can someone who looks like that ever be sad? How shallow, right?! The fact is, that proverbial grass only seems so much greener. I tend to think if I could just do this, if I just looked like that, life would be better. Who knows? Perhaps except for bank accounts and dress sizes, Jennifer Aniston would trade lives with me!

Thanks to Shannon, I am reminded that where I am now is a product of a lot of years of decisions and mistakes, a lot of support from a rich network of loved ones, and, well, God’s grace! I am also reminded that the reason we have friends is to remind us of the best parts of ourselves.

Shannon had no idea… but I was having some big moments of the Doubt this afternoon. Not everyone thinks I am as wonderful as she does :) and sometimes I am still what my husband calls an Approval Addict. Shannon’s words turned my day around… and whether a direct result or not, I spent the rest of the evening cooking a yummy dinner (pasta with light Alfredo sauce, anyone>;) and sharing it with Rod, all 4 of our kids, and our son’s girlfriend, with a little Ella playing in the background, and lots of laughs.

So tomorrow means that I am getting older… that I listen to “dusties”… that I am one year farther away from youth… that I have about a pound to lose for every year I have been alive. So what? Tonight was a great way to start, and I kind of can’t wait to see what happens next…

PS: If you want to make someone’s day, do for them what Shannon did for me!