I’ve been alive 40 years, and unlike those with regular birthdays, I’ve seen the date of my birth, Feb. 29, only 10 times in my lifetime. Yes, loyal readers, I AM A LEAP YEAR BABY!
Four years ago I turned 9 with my twins, and today I turned 10, the same age “my baby” turned 3 months ago. Life as a Leap Year baby has always been full of surprises and early milestones, lifetime bonds formed around the sharing of a birthday (Happy B-day, Toph!) and month-long celebrations when your birthday actually comes for real. And as a one of the approximate 4.1 million leap year babies in the world, I can attest to the fact that NO ONE ever forgets your birthday!
There are a number of superstitions and traditions surrounding my big day, such as the Scot’s belief that to be born on a Leap Day is just as unlucky as being born on Friday the 13th, and the tradition of the Brits and Irish that states that women can only propose marriage to a man on a Leap Day. There was even a movie made about that last tradition in 2010. And there are apparently a variety of Guinness Book of World Records surrounding “leapsters” or “leaplings,” as www.today.com refers to them:
- A Norwegian family named Henriksen from Andenes holds the official record of number of children born on Feb. 29. Mrs. Karin Henriksen gave birth to 3 children on consecutive Feb. 29; her daughter Heidi in 1960 and her sons Olav and Leif-Martin in 1964 and 1968 respectively.
- The only verified example of a family producing three consecutive generations born on February 29 is that of the Keogh family. Peter Anthony was born in Ireland on Feb. 29, 1940, while his son Peter Eric was born on the Leap Day in the United Kingdom (UK) in 1964. His daughter, Bethany Wealth, was, in turn, born in the UK on Feb. 29, 1996.
And we Leapsters, according to www.timeanddate.com, even share a birthday with the likes of …
- 1468 – Pope Paul III (d. 1549)
- 1792 – Gioacchino Rossini, Italian composer (William Tell, The Barber of Seville) (d. 1868)
- 1896 – Morarji Desai, former Indian prime minister (d. 1995)
- 1916 – Dinah Shore, American singer (d. 1994)
- 1924 – Al Rosen, American baseball player
- 1924 – Carlos Humberto Romero, former president of El Salvador
- 1960 – Anthony (Tony) Robbins, American motivational speaker
- 1964 – Lyndon Byers, Canadian hockey player
- 1972 – Antonio Sabàto Jr, Italian-born actor
- 1976 – Ja Rule, American rapper and actor
- 1980 – Chris Conley, American musician and songwriter/composer
But back to my Leap Year experiences …
Like most fellow leap year babies, I’ve always been an over-acheiver. I walked and talked long before I was 1, and even began kindergarten at 1 and 1/4. I won under-8 swimming championships at the ripe old age of 2, and I began high school when I was approximately 3 and 1/2. My parents went all out for my 4th birthday and surprised me with a surprise party at a local pizza joint with all my friends, and I was driving a car shortly thereafter. But did I stop living it up, and surprising my family and friends with these amazing feats there — not a chance!
I graduated high school at 4 1/2 and entered college 3 months later. I won’t be legal to drink until I’ve been alive 84 years, but I developed a love for stale beer and beer pong during my college years,and to celebrate turning 5 and 1/4 (no one but a leap
year child describes their ages in fractions each year) my friends took me out to an off-campus bar for drinks and wings, and paid with any spare change they could find. And I won’t even mention my run in with grain alcohol prior to that birthday. (But enough about my life as an early alcoholic.)
I was a college All-American swimmer before by 5th birthday, and I “retired” from the sport before I turned 6, graduating from college with a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology and a minor in English Creative Writing at 5 1/2.
By the time I was 6 I already had earned a Master’s degree in Social Work, and was married at 6 1/4 in a small
ceremony surrounded by family on a beach in the Bahamas. I was a mom by 7, had my last child long before I turned 8. And by my 9th birthday I had already held jobs as a school counselor, psychotherapist, and newspaper journalist/editor, and prior to my 10th birthday I became a “professional” blogger. Not really, but I began the journey. Your reading this post aren’t you?
I have changed a lot between each birthday, and I feel as if I have already lived a lifetime. An incredible lifetime! I have met artists, and talked to famous actors, I’ve attended a number of incredible rock concerts, and I have traveled to exotic locations (OK, the Bahamas, Mexico, Barbados, St. Thomas, Bermuda and Tortola). Europe is next. I have pet dolphins and swum with sharks. I have fished for barracuda and eaten Mahi Mahi. I’ve seen relatives die young, and I’ve seen my young children cope with the loss of loved ones.
I’ve been in shape and out of shape, lost and gained more pounds than I’ve had birthdays.
I’ve been a great mom, a terrible mom and a mom who sometimes doesn’t know what she’s doing, and the same can be said about my life as Mark’s wife. I have loved hard, hated more than I’d like to admit, found friends, lost friends, and found some more, all in only 10 birthdays. I have explored my faith and spirituality, and I have only just begun to learn who I really am (and not many celebrating their 10th birthday can say that!) And there is so much more to do and learn!
So as I celebrate turning 10 and embark on life in my 41st year on this Earth, I only hope the next 10 birthdays bring me just as much love, laughter, success, and even some of the pain, that the first 10 did, because everything that I experience seems to make me better, stronger, and younger with each new year that I am alive. How lucky am I to be semi-ageless and younger than all of my friends (as well as most of my children’s)?
So … Happy 10th Birthday to me! I can’t wait to see what’s next.