Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I am not Aretha Franklin. Sigh.

I am not Aretha Franklin.

Yeah, it’s a newsflash to me, too.

You see, I always, always have said that I was going to BE Aretha Franklin when I grew up.

Today I hit an age where there is no question, I am Grown Up. There is also no question that I am NOT Aretha Franklin.

Realistically, I knew that I would not magically turn into the Queen of Soul. I think I just hoped I’d get that finger wagging, slippers wearing power of Aretha in the Blues Brothers, so I could say unto the world, “You Better THINK About What You’re Trying to Do to Me”. I think I really wanted confidence and attitude and yes, a set of pipes that makes the rafters shake.

I am not Aretha Franklin.

I still can’t sing, I stood up for myself last week and had someone get all up in my timid, non-confrontational face and try to jump down my throat, and I am literally about half the woman Aretha is. So I am left, unfortunately, trying rather unsuccessfully to NOT be Eeyore this year. I have long not been a fan of birthdays…pretty much since I turned 15. That was the first birthday where I received the wonderful gift of self-loathing. The crazy thing is, NOTHING BAD happened at that birthday. My mom made a lovely dinner, I had friends over, I have NO CLUE why THAT year was the year everything first hit the fan.

It took me until I hit 35 to finally, FINALLY not be overwhelmed with ugh on my birthday. I was ready to be cheerful and eat cake. Ironically that was the first birthday that I spent the night in a hospital waiting for ambulance transport for my child to the Biggest & Best Children’s Hospital a few hours away. I remember how surreal it was to be listening to jazz on an ambulance radio at 4 a.m. while we drove down the Jersey Turnpike, windows wide open to help my daughter’s temperature go down. That was a memorable birthday. My spouse eventually brought the cake down to the hospital, we were stuck there a week…

My youngest child cannot comprehend WHY Mommy doesn’t love her birthday. Why does Mom NOT want to do anything or mark the day? I wish I had a good answer other than it feels fake to me. I don’t even feel like eating cake. Yeah. It’s like THAT. Eek!

I still wish I was Aretha Franklin. I think on these days that mark the passage of time I just get a bit whomped with the way things are the OTHER 364 days of the year. The last several months have not been a fest of hooray—and as mom/wife, a lot of the reason for that comes back on me.

There’s a song I have been listening to a lot recently, a song that says, “you are more than the choices that you make/you are more than the sum of your past mistakes/ you are more than the problems you create” …I am trying to believe this. But some days, “it don’t take too much IQ to see” what I’ve done to me. Aretha trumps all.

So tomorrow will be the first day of a new decade for me. Tomorrow will be another regular day with work and baseball and rain (and maybe then no baseball) and laundry and vacuuming I don’t get done. Life goes on.

My almost 9 year old is standing next to me, balancing a Hershey Kiss on her face and trying to roll it into her mouth. My spouse stepped in to help the 12 year old with her English homework after I totally lost my temper. Even the teen is trying to not be hideous. My 12th grade class gave me a Boston Crème donut with a candle in it. The third grade girls sang an alarming rendition of Happy Birthday to me that was quite endearing if somewhat painful to the ears. I am grateful for the many blessings I have. …I’m just not a birthday kind of gal. And that’s ok.

And you know, even in the Blues Brothers, Aretha eventually gets left behind. She has to figure it out on her own, I guess, comforted by fried chicken and a Coke. Hm. I could live with THAT.
; )

So here’s to being a grown up. Maybe I can focus on becoming Judi Dench now…

NOTE THE OFFICIAL DISCLAIMER OF TRUTH: This is a No Fishing Zone: I am NOT FISHING. I am not fishing for reassurance and comfort or anything like that. I am just saying it like it is. My bs-ometer was blown off in 2004, and now I just Say Things, which is awful but true. Imagine family holidays: Yikes! Please don’t rush to say nice things, I Know you all, you are nice people, and you will want to. I’m telling you, my brain can’t hear it on May 17. It’s just one of Those Things. So don’t worry. Tomorrow is another day. I have no problem with Leftover Cake. ; )


  1. I echo Angela's thoughts - that's precisely what I was thinking. Thanks for being real - and just being you. I hope you have a happy birthday anyhow - and maybe you'll feel like cake eventually :)

  2. Ditto Fox family post. Me I love birthdays and annoy everyone with the thought of mine.
    Happy Birthday anyway to the not Aretha Franklin lady. Its tomorrow here so would love some of the left over cake.