Yesterday was my birthday. I know our youth-obsessed culture says we’re supposed to feel like this about our grown-up birthdays:
But I generally feel a little embarrassed about mine, kind of like this:
My daughter asked me if I had a theme for any of my birthdays when I was a kid. I broke it to her that themed birthday parties were not really super common for Gen Xers. She pitied me for five and a half seconds and then proceeded to agonize over a theme for her next birthday. Thankfully, she has a little time to decide, since it’s in late November.
Our conversation made me think about how weird grown-up birthdays are, though. Do we have themes? I don’t know. Most of the time we’re just going to work and then having a nice dinner with our friends or family. This year I celebrated my birthday by taxiing my kids around as usual. I squeezed in a pedicure that day, but still. Life was pretty normal.
Of course, if you log onto Facebook, your birthday seems like this:
But when you leave the house at 6am to start your day and realize your gas light is on and you have to fill up your tank in the 23 degree freezing cold (hypothetically speaking, of course), your birthday feels like this:
So you get a pedicure and treat yourself to a three-grain bowl at Zoes Kitchen for lunch. Because YOU ARE WORTH CELEBRATING, DARLING.
I’ve realized over the years that my kids’ birthdays are an opportunity to show them how valuable and significant they are to us. In a large family, each one of us is so rarely the center of attention, and a birthday is a great day to focus on one person and remind them they are loved.
But on my birthday, it’s a chance to remind them that Mom is important to their survival and they should be grateful I care for them as much as I do. Because seriously:
I don’t mean this as a generality. I mean I literally told my kids they should try to make my birthday special since I’m the one who makes every day of their existence special.
Guilt trip, what?
Family relationships are a training field for life battle skills. I mean, if all kids could learn to love their parents in an honoring and sacrificial way and all parents could learn not to be offended by disrespectful or selfish behavior, think of what an incredible world of unity and kindness we would create!
By the end of my birthday, I could feel what a great gift it is to be the most important woman in the whole world for a few years of my kids’ lives. I know true loves and their own children and friends will someday come along and expand the kingdom of their lives, adding very important people in the mix and thereby diluting my influence. But for now, I’m the queen here and one of the best things they have going.
Did my birthday have a theme this year? I suppose it did. The theme was Real Life and the lesson was that it is ripe with all kinds of joys and sorrows. We don’t always get to choose what we hold, but we can choose to remember that we are worthy of great love and kindness, no matter how cold it is when we pull up at the 7-11 to refuel.
Today, my tank seems quite full, thankfully. Happy day after my birthday to me.