This is my girl in her natural habitat. I love everything about this shot. Her husband in the background. The glow from the stage. The wristband. Those curls. Her smiling eyes. And yes, of course her signature concert tiny hand.
Birthday 31 came crashing into us today. That is the lovely thing about birthdays, they don’t give a flying F that the world is upside down, they just show up, give us a nice little dose of normal and make us adjust, be grateful and enjoy the moment.
Which got me to thinking that those exact qualities are the essence of Jana.
She shows up… always. It is one of her best qualities. She shows up when you need her and even when you didn’t realize that you did. She works her butt off, helps those in need, volunteers, raises money, gets the job done… whatever it takes.
She doesn’t care that the world is upside down, she still finds a way to be close, give support and make me laugh. Every day. Her normal.
When I start to go down a road of crazy, she makes me adjust, take a breath, keep my eye on my own ball, consider the endgame and enjoy the moment.
You have both learned well and taught me even better, Petunes. Could not love you more if I tried.
Happy Bizarro birthday, my sweet. Promise to make it up to you on the other side of all this. With music. And funfetti!
Thirty. T-H-I-R-T-Y. 3-0! (Indulge me, I don’t do this very often anymore.)
How can that be? I was (almost) 30 when I had you! Which means you have been hanging around for almost half my life! From here on in I will have lived in a Janaworld longer than a Janaless one.
Thank goodness. For I could not imagine a day without you in my life. That smile. That laugh. That eye roll. The way you only have to give me a look across the room that says it all. You ground me. And parent me back. Tricky. And yet you still lean when you need to. And I love that just as much.
When I set out to start a family, I never thought about this part very much. Who does? You think babies and toddlers and teens. But the part about growing full humans who become the people you most want to be with? I doubt that crosses the mind of many young parents.
So here we are. And I marvel everyday at your courage. Your strength. Your persistence. Your sense … way more sense than I ever had at your age. (Or maybe even now, for that matter.) You know your mind and you hold fast to what you believe in. That is a gift. Don’t ever doubt your gut, we both know it is the wisest voice of all.
Mothers and daughters. That can be one crazy roller coaster. But for us, it is like we are the eye of the hurricane. We hold tight in the middle of all the chaos, and step out into it together when we want to have some fun. Hold tight to that feeling … the one where you take the risks but keep a cool head when the unexpected happens. That is where all the good stuff happens.
Here’s to the next decade. May you continue to know how to pivot with grace. May your dreams come true. And when they don’t, know I will always be right here to catch you when you fall.
LU2 Petunes. More than life itself. Happy Birthday.
I’ve been writing these birthday posts for an awfully long time. This one is extra special as you are now the age I was when I became pregnant with you. No, this is not a hint. I am fully aware you are not even prepared to have a fish. And that is just fine with me. I am OK with you keeping your eye on your own yoga mat.
This has been quite a year for you. Getting married… in between four Nor’easters! Your grandmother would have said that was good luck. (Then again, she told your dad that when a bird pooped on him 2 days before our wedding). All those snowstorms were nothing compared to everything that we have navigated surrounding your wedding. But with all the life challenges we faced, you stood in the center of the hurricane and kept your cool. Your grace and joy in the process was contagious.
I sit back on the other side of this year and think, sure the wedding was a blast. And it was everything you wanted it to be. But it was the moments planning it together that truly mattered. I got to watch how you move in the world. How you conduct yourself. How people both respect you and want to be around you. You make all those that love you the best version of themselves.
Me included. Big time. We have begun the shift of parenting where you teach me. And remind me what is most important in life (not to mention how you rock a google doc and always make the dinner reservations).
There are pivotal moments for a mom where she has to learn to let go, but still strike the balance of holding on for dear life. I thank you for being just the right amount of independent while still having the humility to ask for guidance.
I love us, Petunes. More than I can ever say. Thanks for being the daughter I know I can count on no matter what.
Oh, and Happy Birthday! May this year be as spectacular as the last.
Twenty-eight! The age I was when I was planning to have you, and now here you are being that age. And being it so damn well you astound me.
Jana, indulge me in the annual birthday post, where I marvel at what a kickass woman you turned out to be.
Your smile. Period.
The way in which you are one of the toughest people I know. Packed into that little body of yours, armed with only that smile and some guts, I have watched you gently show the world that you will take no shit, or prisoners. A few examples:
Getting a 300 lb. bouncer to shut down the DJ on the previous party in a bar to move your people in.
Getting me to go under the turnstile in a subway station when my metrocard did not work (now we will both get arrested, sorry, bad judgement)
Better judgement than me in most cases (see item 2)
Becoming the family concierge and doing it like it is second nature.
Letting those you love never doubt that love for one second.
But, I am most proud of your integrity and humility. Your unwavering commitment to the people and causes that mean the most to you. All while making it seem like no big deal. Please know that does not go unnoticed (even by people who did not give birth to you).
Happy Birthday, Petunes. This has been quite a few months for you. You are so very fortunate to have found the love of your life. As you say, he makes you the best version of yourself. As your mom, there is nothing that could make me happier.
Thank you for the joy you bring to my life every single day. And for the honor of being your mother.
Nope, no one in my house is graduating. But for some reason I found myself going back and reading all of the graduation posts that I had written for my kids. I guess it is that time of year. It all seems so long ago, and like yesterday at the same time.
I will tell you that here on the other side, we are all doing great and happy to have made it.
Here is a little roundup for those who are going through the graduation dance. Don’t worry, I promise, you will all be just fine.
You wake up one morning, a good 30 lbs over your normal weight (don’t judge), wash your hair, take off your jewelry and nail polish (your version of natural childbirth) and you walk into the hospital to have a baby.
That is pretty much how it went. A stubborn breech baby, Miss Jana preferred the less violent (for her, anyway) exit of a c-section.
You planned for just about everything… and nothing at all.
You did not plan for how amazing your life would become because she was in it. Or how your heart would both fill and break at a moment’s notice when her life took its swings. You counted fingers and toes and thought you were good to go.
And then one day you turn around and she turns 27! Today! And you look at the woman she has become and think, damn if I did anything right in this world it was her (and you too, Dan, but it’s not your birthday). Sure, we all gush about our kids, and love them unconditionally. But, as they age up the parenting piece is so very different. It’s a sidelines thing. A bite your tongue and hope and pray endeavor. And then they start to impart THEIR wisdom to YOU!
So, for your birthday, my sweet Petunia Blossom, I will share some of your wisdom:
In the history of mankind, no one has ever calmed down when you say ‘calm down’.
They now take credit cards in taxis, it’s not 1985. (in my defense I was pretty sick that day)
Sometimes you just have to smile and nod – and shut the hell up.
Repost is the best instagram regram app.
You don’t need to solve it, you just need to listen to me complain. I will solve it myself.
When you take pictures on your phone, you should always shut the sound off.
Don’t eat this [fill in the blank], it has too much salt.
Madewell has great gift items.
This is how you do a face swap video.
But most of all you taught me how to be silly and love life, even when it can be ‘annoying’. It seems you have been doing this your entire life.
Many of you have watched her grow up here; at least the parts of her we like to share. Jana not only made me a mom for the first time, she made me a mom blogger with my very first post about her High School graduation. Then on to her college graduation where I visited a different kind of change… getting her back.
Fast forward to today. Today is Jana’s last day at a job she has grown to love way beyond being a place of employment. God’s Love We Deliver has been a calling. The place where someone a little too young for the job proved she was not. Where, like everyone who works and volunteers there, she was embraced for who she is and appreciated way more than she could fathom. Until she made the tough decision to take the next step in her career.
The photo above is today’s GLWD Facebook post. She came into the office at 6AM (did I mention she starts work at 6AM?!) to find the walls covered with photos of her good times spent there. I awoke to a text with a video of the scene. We were both quite taken with this.
The emotions surrounding raising a child are often overwhelming. Equal parts pride and melancholy, the growing of a human is a roller coaster, indeed. (it’s all good, we both LOVE roller coasters). All a parent can hope for in the lives of their children is that they can find themselves, make a solid contribution and be valued. A huge thank you to the God’s Love We Deliver family, that has embraced, not only our girl, but our entire family. You have left a mark on all of us.
Good luck, my sweet Jana. As one door closes… blah blah blah. None of this makes today any easier. Love you to the moon and back. We could not be any prouder of you.
For 25 years – close to half my life – this beautiful smile has graced my days. Along with that smile came the drying of the tears, the dreams and the disappointments, the successes and failures that all go along with parenting a daughter.
Somewhere along the way, the lines have shifted ever so slightly. No longer am I the only one to give advise or be the sounding board. Now my daughter’s is one of the first opinions I seek when I am unsure. She holds me up when I think I can no longer bear things. She calms me down when I am going down that path of frustration that we both know is futile. She teaches me back all the things I tried to teach her as she was growing up.
She, and her brother, have become MY rock. Funny how that happens. One day you are trying to reason with a teenager about why wearing stockings or not to a Bar Mitzvah is not a decision that will change her life. You try to explain to her at 1 in the morning that no, she will not fail that test and the grade in this class will not define her forever. Then before you turn around, she is standing there watching you unravel and explaining to you why she knows you will get through it all. That she is there, and she always will be. Or she simply rubs your back when you choke up at the holiday table.
Basically, she grows up. And she does it ever so gracefully. She knows her mind, she keeps her cool and the words, “It’s just so annoying” become less frequent. You never hear the word ‘fine’ and the slam of the door that follows it ever again. Replaced by the frustrations is a calmness and a determination that sees her through and helps her navigate her obstacles. She has followed her passions and created a life of her own design.
She has become the woman you always dreamed she would be. And then some.
Yes, THIS is 25, in all its glory. A quarter of century that seems so very old to her but that you know is just the beginning of a glorious life.
Happy Birthday Jana Banana. I could not be any prouder of who you have become. May your birthday be as special as you are.
The picture above is the Holstee Manifesto. If you are not familiar with Holstee, I urge you to read about them here. When they started their company they wrote this manifesto. “It was about what they wanted from life and how to create a company that breathes that passion into the world everyday. It was a reminder of what we live for. The result became known as the Holstee Manifesto”.
For those who don’t know our family, my girl is filled with this kind of passion. She has a spark in her eye and a smile that can knock you over (ok, I am her mom, but she does!). She has ideas about helping people and wanting to make a difference. And for the past year she found herself in a job that, let’s be kind and say, did not fit that bill. Not remotely. And it took its toll on her. At times she felt as if it would break her. But she stuck it out and trudged away, spending a year trying to get out of it the skills that she could.
And now? She has been given the opportunity to live the Manifesto. “If you don’t like something, change it. If you don’t like your job quit… Start doing things you love… Life is about the people you meet and the the things you create with them… Live your dream and share your passion.” (she is still working on the ‘stop watching TV piece… hey this is a launch post, not a miracle post).
They say that you are only as happy as your most miserable child. But in turn, you are also as happy as your most ecstatic child, too. When your daughter finds the world she expected to find after college, when she gets up in the morning with a smile on her face, when working on Sundays and odd hours is not a chore, when she stays up and rewrites her notes from work because she is so excited about what she is learning and wants to get it right… when the spark comes back in her eye and you see her smile more in a week than you have in the past year… well, you know your girl is launched.
And quite frankly, there is nothing better on this earth.
Congrats to my girl for being launched. May you shine as bright as you can. I love you to the moon and back again.
There I said it. That was not easy. How can this be? The curly-headed little girl that used to boss us all around is now really a grown up. Like taking the 6:45 train go to work everyday kind of grown up. Like getting back a tax refund kind of grown up (lucky girl).
I have always said that the first 5 years of parenting lasts forever and after that it flies by so fast you don’t know what hit you.
Happy birthday to the one who knows me best, keeps me in line, chills me out, shares the ups and downs and still makes me laugh every day. (well almost every day).
For those who are saddened by the idea of their kids growing up, here is some wonderful news. It gets better every year.
Love you Petuney. May your dreams all come true, even if they are taking a little detour on the 6:45 right now.