September 3, 2011


I’ve always thought birthdays should be just a little bit magical. Not in the excessive overly consumptive way that we’ve become used to in North America—but in a simpler, more profound way. One that leaves you feeling encircled by a special type of love: the kind that lets you know there is a group of people who are really happy you came along and who really enjoy who you are.

Maia doesn’t turn ten for a couple more days—but our dear friends, Mark and Val needed to head back to California before the day itself. So we decided to declare her birthday week underway and yesterday was the day that we let Maia know how much joy she’s brought to our lives.

Mark and Val are the kind of friends that make life rich and wondrous. We met them in Turtle Bay, Mexico in January of 1996 and from a spontaneous dinner invitation, which led to a long night of imbibing, a friendship grew. We’ve seen each other through boat building and baby birthing, the loss of parents, and changes in homes and careers. We’ve also been on dozens of trips together—and seen amazing and beautiful things (and drank a bunch).

But for Maia, who’s memories don’t stretch all the way back to the miss-spent years, M + V are like the super fun auntie and uncle who always offer the coolest ideas and the best stuff to do (Val is a zoo curator—which means Maia has had more than a few really cool animal encounters) and having them here for her birthday made her incredibly happy.

I, however, am not like a super fun aunt and uncle. And although I think birthdays should be awesome, I actually didn’t plan anything for Maia’s. In fact when I checked for supplies I realized that not only did I not have enough flour to make a cake, or candles to put on it, but I discovered my icing sugar had bugs in it and we are miles, and miles, from anywhere. I also realized we didn’t have any spaghetti noodles left, which is what she asked for, for her birthday dinner.

With my ‘mother of the year’ award clearly out the window I decided the best way to redeem the day would be to find a nice dive site where our little novice diver could swim with some fishes. So Mark and I headed off in the dinghy looking for a site with a) cool stuff and b) that was close enough that five people and gear could get there without being swamped by a stiff breeze and chop.

As we explored a reef we noticed a cave in the cliff-face and after exploring the cave we hatched a plan. With the dinghy loaded with us and our gear we headed out. While underway Maia was shocked and enthralled to see a bottle bob by. Insisting we fish it out she discovered the bottle contained a message: a ragged chart and a cryptic note about a hidden treasure. She followed the chart--navigating us through dangerous shoals, and over ancient fish traps, past three coves to a cave in the cliff face. Scrambling from the dinghy she headed into the cave where she found a treasure—her birthday gifts.

Then she dove to 30 feet, then went skurfing on her surf board, and hung out and giggled the day away.

Her dinner—pasta (not spaghetti but close enough) followed by cake (well, brownies from a mix but decorated with a diver in bug-free icing--a sifter is a beautiful thing--and two candles)—was lovely. And the movie that followed (of course I couldn’t find the one she requested—but an old James Bond was fine…) rounded out her day.

My little girl is loved—deeply loved—for who she is. And as she celebrates turning ten, I’m quietly celebrating another event: the moment I became a mother.
 I might not always do it right—but somehow it’s still magical.


Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Happy Happy Birthday to the goldenest girl in the blog world. Ten is a magical age for young ladies. May each step she takes lead the way to Peace.

Diane, Evan and Maia said...

Thanks so much for the good wishes and the lovely comments:)

jmax said...

Exquisitely cool post. Big happy birthday wishes from us, Maia. Hope our package arrives before you turn 11 ;-)