Saturday, October 12, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

me on my 40th w flowers my
coworkers gave me!
I love celebrations. I believe special events need recognition and holidays deserve attention. I especially love birthdays. I love my children's birthdays. I love my spouse's birthday but mostly, I love my birthday.
The problem is my family doesn't love my birthday as much as I do.
Like today for instance. Today is my birthday. But to the five little minions I gave birth to it's the day I go to the grocery store, and get them ready for the homecoming dance, basketball practice and soccer championship.
In passing one of them said, "Oh, yeah mom, Happy Birthday."
Like that counts.
Apparently they have no idea how important I am. Their entire existence on this planet hinges on the fact that I was born first. They wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for me. Well, and their father. Whose birthday, by the way, falls three days after mine.

He's not nearly as hung up on birthday celebrations as I am. To remedy his blasé attitude I decided one year that I would teach him a lesson by putting the same amount of energy into his birthday as he did on mine. No cake for me? Fine, no cake for you either.
But instead of sparking a celebratory attitude my passive aggressive plan backfired. He was relieved I finally stopped making a big deal about 'just another day on the calendar'.
Sometimes I often wonder if an individual's attitude about birthdays shouldn't be included in premarital counseling. You know: Where do you see yourself in 20 years, How many children would you like, and To what extent do you expect to be celebrated on your birthday?
Make or break stuff right there folks.
I think this could be my mother's fault. If she wouldn't have brought cupcakes to school every year, let me pick out what we eat all day long and make a big show out of presenting me with a gift I wouldn't have been raised with the expectation that for one day, every year, the whole world would stop and acknowledge me.
Today, when I woke up, I had to make my own coffee for goodness sakes!
That's one of the many examples of things we moms sacrifice when we enter the parenthood; the realization that now, hardly anything in life is about us anymore. And while a part of me will always wish that just once, for one day it could be all about me, I guess the truth is I needed to give up that comeuppance attitude when, ironically my first child was born.
So there's the path. I could pull out all my passive aggressive stops and demand to be adored just one day a year, which how awesome could that really be anyway? Ordering people to celebrate you? Or, I can decide that it is enough for me to know that my beginning lead me to this. To them.
Sure I was here first but because of me my kids are here. And they're mine. And I love them. I wouldn't trade my life, my kids or my existence for any other. I love where my life has led me. If I relish that fact on my birthday perhaps that is the best present of all. Even if I gave it to myself. Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so. That's why.
This article appears as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series for The Review Atlas, a GateHouse Media paper. Stephanie is a parent educator for the Monmouth-Roseville school district. She hosts playgroups, parenting classes and is available for public speaking. She can be reached at

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