Tag Archives: Birthdays

On Birthdays

I don’t like a lot of things other people love. I don’t like Christmas. I don’t like drinking. I don’t like loud, raucous parties or Game of Thrones (books, I haven’t seen the series) or M&Ms. I’m not interested in rock concerts, even for my favorite bands. Okay, maybe the Beatles, but only because it’d be a miracle since half of them are dead. I don’t care for fast food or Starbucks and I flat out HATED Hawaii.

And I’m not a fan of my birthday.

Hold on, you say. Join the club! Nobody likes their birthday after 21. Anyone saying otherwise is lying. And women aren’t even allowed to have birthdays after 29!

And, yeah, that’s all pretty true. But there’s still a weird pressure? expectation? implied societal contract? that I should at least enjoy my birthday. I should skip work, stuff myself with cake, buy myself presents, or do whatever it takes to fill that void.

What void? It’s the space that exists between everyone’s normal day and what makes it your special day. It’s the absense of change between yesterday you and one-year-older you.

As a kid, your birthday is a big deal. Or, well, it can be. Cake, presents, maybe a party. Maybe a party no one shows up for. Maybe not the presents you wanted or no presents at all. Maybe burnt cake or “the year Mom became a Vegan” cake. I can’t remember most of my birthdays as a child. I’ve seen a few pictures of the early ones. Regardless, I know what it’s supposed to feel like. I started remembering my birthdays because they stopped living up to that gut feeling.

That’s not to say I had an awful childhood or anything. Far from it. I had great birthdays, with slumber parties and pizzas and all manner of fun all the way through high school and then well into my 20s.

But you wake up the next day and think, so this is 16? 18? 25? 34? Doesn’t feel any different. I look back on some of my more recent parties and it looks like I was trying to capture that essence of BIG CHANGE that came with blowing out those candles.

I mean, it’s a lot harder to get that rush as an adult. Turning 10 is a big deal, but turning 34? I keep having to do the Math to remember my age. And that’s not an “I’m so old I can’t remember” thing. It’s a “this number has little to no significance in my day-to-day life” thing.

Plus, parties are so difficult now. It wasn’t so bad in our 20s, since most of our friends were also in their 20s and eager for weekend shenanigans. Now? Friends we’ve known for over a decade can’t find the time for lunch or miss our son’s birthday because their kids have competitions or games. Adults are busy. Adults with kids need sitters and 6 months notice just for brunch.

But listen, I could go on about how birthdays are always lacking. Even if all my Facebook friends and family post on my page, a sulky part of me will wonder why I didn’t get more calls or texts (which, yes, is super dumb and petty, but try explaining that to my Id). Or more birthday cards. My husband has an unparalleled record for amazing gifts, but somehow the fact that my family typically doesn’t go in for birthday gifts will still bother me. This is despite knowing that there are 5 adult kids in my family, plus 3 spouses, 1 girlfriend, and now 5 grandbabies, which is just a TON of people to keep track of let alone afford cards/gifts for. It’s actually kind of nice that there isn’t that pressure to get something for everyone for every occasion because when I do manage to get bday cards sent, I feel like a superstar and not like it’s some obligatory thing.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to go all negative about this so I hope you stuck with me through the moping. I wanted to approach this year a little differently to maybe alleviate that inexplicable post-bday let-down.

First, to address that lack of BIG CHANGE between 33 and 34. Let’s be honest, in the grand scheme of your life not a lot changes over a year. You, as a person, are pretty much set by the time 30 hits. But on the other hand, so much can change for you. This time last year, I had a newborn and I was clinging to sanity like Gandalf hanging off the bridge in Khazad-Dum. Did I let go to go fight the Balrog? No, because I stayed sane and didn’t have time for smoting my enemies and getting reborn with new threads. Now, I have a toddler who is mobile (understatement) and a daily/nightly challenge. Am I the same mother I was last year? HA, no. I am a little bit more confident even if I am still vastly intimidated by the tasks that lie ahead (17 more years of them, yikes).

And last year, I was still trying to integrate Mom into my personality. I recently saw a meme about how having kids doesn’t make the person you used to be disappear or some shite.

My friend (mother of 6) who posted it was pissed and at first I didn’t get why. It seemed like the normal inspirational drivel I usually scroll on by, but I’m new to the whole Mom game still and there was some context I wasn’t privy to. Anyway, the woman I was 2 years ago, before I was even pregnant, is kind of a stranger to me now. Weird, right? I mean, she’s still there, utterly confused by how difficult it is for me to get a pedicure on a whim. But I can’t seem to see her as me anymore? And I don’t want to go back to being her. I sometimes wish I could, on bad days or long nights. Just, not really. If I could get a full night’s sleep, crochet all day and still get my happy boy, that’s the deal I’d take. So yes, that person matters, but only because I couldn’t exist now without her. There’s no going back to her. No giving up Momming to indulge the illusion. Having a kid changes you because you must or they die.

Good grief, this is getting all over the place. This year qualifies as a BIG CHANGE year for me, but every year can do that if you just tally up all the little ways you have grown, whether emotional or psychological, or whatever. Every moment you are alive is BIG.

As for the gifts and cake and filling that void, well, I have a cupboard full of chocolate. My hubby got me the writing seminar with Neil Gaiman (SQUEE). My good friend is making me a super cool bag. My boy now plays by himself during the day so I can get crochet done again. And the universe has been plentiful with blessings.

To wit:

Tim Curry narrates the audiobooks for Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

2 of my good friends just had healthy babies, one on Buddy Boy’s birthday.

I am alive and in shape (round is a shape, I checked).

I have a decent, caring husband who does dishes and vacuums and folds laundry and plays with his son.

Our tax refund is enough to pay for a flight home this summer so our boy can meet all his cousins and aunties and uncles.

Captain Marvel was pretty great.

I could go on. And so could you. The world is filled with awful, more every day. Take time to remember the good if you can. It won’t fix anything, but it can make things bearable for a time.

Now go forth and enjoy my birthday!

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Filed under Ramblings, Rants

Bodacious Buddy Birthday

Today is my husband’s birthday.  The party is a BBQ on Saturday.  However, as his wife, I decided long ago that it is my duty to make sure his birthdays are special.  Before Buddy, I had numerous disappointing birthdays, but I haven’t had a bad one since we got together.  So I do what I can.

On vacation, we went to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water house (so gorgeous).  While there, we picked up an architectural Lego set for his growing collection (Rockefeller Center).  Then I told him it was for his birthday and he couldn’t put it together until then.  Mwahahaha!  It’s been sitting on our coffee table for a week and a half.  Today, I wrapped it.  He laughed a lot.

So yesterday, he decided he wanted a Reese’s Peanut Buttercup and a Baja Fresh Mountain Dew.  He really knows how to dream big, right?

Well, yeah.  We used to keep cases of soda on the house.  For a few years, when I was in the Army, I had a 4-can-a-day habit.  I cut back to one a day eventually.  Then, I stopped drinking soda some time last year, I think in the spring.  I was drinking a can in class for the caffeine and I was still falling asleep.  It dawned on me that, while I can deal with a product being less than healthy for (even diet or ‘zero’ varieties), I will not continue to pay for something that doesn’t fulfill its primary purpose.

Anyway, Buddy agreed that it was a waste of money and we stopped keeping it in the house.  He still drank some at work for a while, but kicked soda completely on December 1st.  That was also about the time he gave up cheap candy bars.  I still indulge in the occasional candy bar, but since I can only eat dark chocolate I usually can’t find one when cravings attack.

You may have noticed that I said “cheap” candy bars.  That’s because if we paid $7 for a bar of gourmet chocolate, we will (try) not to scarf it down in one sitting.  So they don’t count.

I found a giant-size Reese’s bar (because it’s got to kill the craving for a year) and then spent three hours scouring gas stations, pharmacies, and grocery stores for the elusive Baja Fresh Mountain Dew.  Pepsi has a helpful website where you can look up where the different specialty products are sold.  Except it was almost completely wrong.  I found two places that actually sold Baja, and they only had 12-packs, which was not an acceptable portion size.  So I got his second choice (Throwback Mountain Dew with real sugar, also hard to find).  I bought a Diet Cherry Dr Pepper for myself as a consolation for the rough search.

I brought them home, wrapped them up, and while Buddy was mowing the lawn on his birthday (!), I made dinner (baked chicken and steamed broccoli), lit some candles, and changed for a romantic evening (hockey jersey and jeans).  Cuz we are super classy like that.  Don’t worry.  We’ll be drinking plenty of adult beverages on Saturday to make up for having soda with our “fancy” dinner.


The point I’m trying to make is that a special day comes from special details, not silly extravagance.

I’m ending this with the exchange we had while watching Kitchen Crashers.

Buddy:  Sure.  Use the old “blind dog” routine to pick up chicks.

Me:  Those were the days, eh?

Buddy:  Bwahahahahaha!

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15PM000000112011 · 23:51

Last Birthday

Today I turned 29. So I guess that’s it. My life is over. I’m an old woman and I must spend the rest of my days lying about my age, buying more and more expensive face cream, and counting the wrinkles around my eyes. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a bollocks way to live the next 50-70 years.

I’ll be honest, though, I’ve felt old for years. It started in the Army. My sore joints from running and push-ups coupled with the influx of younger soldiers made 23 and 24 to be pretty sage years. It was worse when I got out and started community college. It was disorienting being around people with whom I didn’t automatically share experiences. They hadn’t gone to BCT or AIT, had never deployed, and had barely been out of the state. And they were all so young. They were only a few years junior to me and yet I felt I had decades on them. When I transferred to CNU, the old-woman syndrome intensified. At least at community college, there were lots of non-traditional students who were older than me, had families and life experience, and could relate with me about all these “kids.” CNU felt like I’d been plunged in the kiddie pool again.

The big moment for me came when I recently realized that I have a decade on the freshmen. A decade. Now, I still look like I’m 12, so I’m accustomed to people expressing surprise at my actual age. A new expression that I wasn’t prepared for was shock verging on horror. Surprise is flattering, but how am I to respond to “Oh my God!”? Is it so bad that I’m finally at the end of my twenties? Have I failed somehow because I’m in college and not already living in my million dollar mansion on the beach? Is it too late for me to achieve all my dreams?

Okay, I’m being a little melodramatic. But think about it. The obsession with youth is ridiculous in this country. There is so much pressure to be young and beautiful, to succeed now before it’s too late. And under it all is a fear of getting old, which is a grammatical conundrum for me. Can you define old? Specifically? It isn’t a really definitive adjective, yet we talk about it as though it’s a destination that we arrive at when in fact our perception of what is “old” is constantly evolving. And we dread that imaginary destination because it is an indication that it’s all over. The big dreams, the feeling of limitless potential, the infinite possibilities, they all evaporate when we get old. Then we’re supposed to spend the rest of our lives pining for lost youth and trying to recapture it through make-up, hair dye, surgical modifications, and flashy cars.

Well I call bull sh*t. I may have started college later, but I didn’t spend seven years sitting in a stasis chamber waiting for my turn to take English 101. I lived. I lived in Hawaii and Alabama, deployed to Iraq, got my heart obliterated, fell in love, got married, made friends that are closer to me than my siblings, drove from the east coast to the west coast and back, and made my own way in the world. Old my ass. I’m experienced. If I was writing a letter to my 18-year-old self, I’d tell her not to change a doggone thing. All the mistakes I regret were part of making me who I am, and I like who I am. I don’t sit in class envying all those “kids” for their youth. If anything, I pity anyone who thinks that their life ends at 29. That isn’t a way to look at life. It’s okay to feel old, especially on Monday mornings when the alarm goes off. But there’s no cause to start mourning birthdays. Celebrate every year you survive in this effed up world. And lord your experiences over the younger generations, like I do at every possible opportunity. I’m going to brag about my age for the rest of my life.

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15PM000000102011 · 22:37