Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Birthday. Funkytown Edition

So, this is what 45 feels like. I've been trying it on for size for about ten hours now and it ain't all bad.  Of course, I've only been awake about three of those ten hours, so things could get dicey from here on out.

But, as I've sat in bed this morning?  Every phone call in has been sweet birthday wishes from family.  Every email has been the same from friends.  I'd call that a super great, over-the-top, fantastic start to the day.

Yet, here is where I admit that I was a little skeptical about my 45th.

Not because I was turning 45.  Not because I went to a pilates/yoga/happy-clappy class late last night with my home girl and thought I'd torn every muscle in my legs and abdomen and wouldn't be able to walk or sit up this morning.

No.  It's because I haven't handled birthdays well since having kids.

I have been known to be the one who is disappointed by remembering the day I was born.  I've been the one pouting in the corner because my day didn't turn out the way it "should" have.

In other words, I've been a brat when it comes to celebrating me.  And, I have realized this for a long time and just couldn't shake my annual reaction.   But, I desperately wanted to because, truly, it sucks to feel like you are ruining your own birthday and bumming out your family year after year.

When I was little, I would get out the Sears catalog early and be assured of the perfect gift time after time.  Mom would always plan a party and friends would come out of the woodwork and try to sit as close to me as possible so they could get the mojo of the birthday wish when I blew out the candle.  And the cake was always the flavor I wanted, with decorations to match my stage of development.  Think Muppets or Barbie or Donny Osmond.  And the complete self-absorption of youth.

When I was single and surrounded by single girlfriends on July 19th, someone always made the strawberry cake with strawberry frosting.  There was always time to relax because I could take the day off or go to lunch with the crew at work and sneak a drink on company time or enjoy a late night at a dance club.  It was, truly, all about me.   And drinking.

What I now understand is that not all birthdays are created the same.  They ebb and flow.  They aren't consistently awesome.   Even though I have been conditioned to believe that they SHOULD be.
I think, when your kids are little, it is almost impossible to have the "perfect" birthday.  Little kids just don't know how to turn off.  They don't understand that all you really want is a day of peace and quiet with no bickering or hitting or celebration of farting.

And, if you have little kids, you likely have a young marriage.  And young marriages are still in that learning curve.  Since your spouse didn't grow up with the birthday celebrations you did, they don't understand the importance (or lack thereof) placed on these times.*

For some families, saying "Happy Birthday" within spitting distance on the calendar is the celebration.   Having the right kind of cake and the perfect present and a relaxing day just isn't even on the radar.

For some families, mine by marriage included, early morning phone calls with a singing Aunt and niece and nephew and a late day call from the in-laws are the treat.  There's also the way my Mother-in-law can consistently find the one Hallmark card that says it all and then add just the right amount of her own writing to create a picture of how much she loves me.

The only way for the birthday celebrations of your youth to follow you into adulthood is to recreate them for those you love.  They, in turn, are going to celebrate you in the way your spouse was celebrated growing up, splashed with a little pizazz from the parties you've thrown for them.  The new, blended celebrations will be unique to the family you've created.

And, I've come to realize, that is a good thing.

I've now had kids long enough that they get what I'd like on my birthday.  And Mike and I have been together long enough that he gets it, too**.  They understand, because I've lavished them with the birthdays of my youth, that I place uber-importance on the celebration.  And, even though the celebrations thrown for me aren't exact replicas of birthdays gone by, they are wonderful.

Over the years my family has begun to understand that I would like to sleep in.  If they are going to eat breakfast, Mike is making it.  And it will likely be out of a box.

They all get that I would like to write a blog post in my pajamas, in bed, at 10:30 a.m.

The kids understand that celebrating alone, after work hours, with my sweetheart doesn't mean I don't want them around.  It's just one more way they know Mommy and Daddy are still crazy enough about each other that we want to spend couple time together on Momma's birthday.

For those of you suffering from birthday letdown, let me assure you that there will be a point where your kids serenade you to the strains of a recorder, played by one of your children, while you luxuriate in your bed. 

There will come a day where your husband realizes, because you've told him seven years in a row, what you want is an extra hour of sleep and no breakfast-making duties, so he'll handle it.

Someday your kids will find something to occupy their time so you can stay in bed, playing on the Internet, until you HAVE to shower for lunch with your friend from high school.

And, like me, you'll realize that the perfect birthday DOES exist.  It may not be the birthday of your youth, but it will be better.

And being around long enough to gain that knowledge is, in my estimation, a wonderful reason to turn 45.

*Early on, being a woman, I assumed that Mike would "read my mind" or see the signals* and figure out that, growing up, Mom placed HUGE emphasis on birthdays.  But, when that didn't happen, I got all blame-y.  

**I finally just TOLD HIM what I wanted on my birthdays, which is a helluva lot more effective than osmosis through stink-eye.

No comments:

Post a Comment