I celebrated my 40th birthday this week. Woo-hoo. Everyone asks me if I feel different. I don’t. I almost forgot the whole thing to be honest. I think the kids were more excited than I was. They were so excited in fact that I didn’t even get to blow out my own candles. After singing “Happy Birthday” my three year old launched himself up onto the table for fear that someone might blow before him. Now, anyone who has seen a three year old blow out candles knows that they essentially just spit on the cake to “blow” out the candle. There was so much spittle that if we were being honest it would have to be listed as a major ingredient. I asked my wife for a piece from the other side of the cake but I’m still unsure if that happened.

But my birthday did cause me to self-reflect a wee bit. Not the deep-brooding-wallowing kind that you lock yourself in your room and listen to classic rock on headphones. But the kind that nibbles at the end of your mind and makes you pause between buttering waffles in the morning. That kind.

My birthday has been a time of comparing the expectations I had for myself versus the actualities. Needless to say the two don’t exactly coincide. For example, here’s a list of things I’d thought I’d need as an adult.

Night Vision Goggles

These, of course, are the things I actually do need:


So as you can see, either I was a very dopey kid or I’m a really under-performing adult. I’m going with dopey kid. But my life didn’t turn out as I expected in so many ways. But whose life does? My goodness, twenty years ago I didn’t even think I’d be married, never mind have five children (so far).

But it seems that when we’re planning out our lives like a movie script we see ourselves as the center of the drama; the hero overcoming obstacles. Hey, we’re the star around whom all things orbit. But we fail to take everything into account. I don’t think we ever see love coming. I don’t mean it in the sappy “Pride and Prejudice” way. We all expect that. I mean the kind of love you can’t compartmentalize in your life. The kind that allows you to accept not being the star of your own movie anymore. I’ve realized that I’m a supporting player in my own movie. And I’m OK with that. I’m much more concerned with the very small and very cute prima donnas around me. I spend my days alternately as a key grip (whatever they do), a teamster, and the caterer. But love has a way of making it not a big deal that things are not about you. In short, love has a way of making you not mind you don’t have a jet pack.

P.S. I still think I may get the night vision goggles though. They’re only $70 at Amazon. How cool is that?