Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What I Think About--Birthdays (Please join me for a pity party)

While I was doing my LOVE IS challenge a monumental event came and went with little attention.

No, I'm not talking about Puxatony Phil (although the days are the same); I'm talking about my birthday.
When I was growing up my parents made our birthdays special.  Of course I mean "special" in the 1980s fashion (read: you pick dinner, open a present, and eat cake with family and 1-2 friends) and not the millennium fashion (read: $300 parties with 50 guests and a gazillion presents you don't have to write thank-yous for).  I always felt special and loved on my birthdays, no matter how "minimalist" they were.

When I became an adult everyone told me that birthdays were somehow less important--less hullabaloo, less cake, less attention.  I guess with all the distractions of work and kids and bills there just isn't time for grown-ups to feel special, even for just one day.

I understand busy.  I even understand aging not being a big deal (although the more I celebrate my 30th birthday the more I love it!).

But this year, my birthday went by without much attention at all.

I had to commute and work and go to school until 7; Matt had business obligations until 10:30. 

Before I left for my commute, there were no "birthday breakfasts" or silly "happy birthday" songs. 

Aside from Facebook well wishes and a text or two, there were no birthday cards (unless you count the one from an insurance agency that I don't use) and no birthday phone calls--not even from my family.  

Around 5:30 pm I briefly toyed with the idea that a surprise party was in the making. When I came home at 7:00 to a dirty house, I realized that there was no surprise party.

I had a Samantha Baker moment from Sixteen Candles.  No, my birthday wasn't forgotten; it was just unacknolwedged.  And somehow, that felt worse.


To be fair, when I got home (after I cleaned up the house and did the dishes) I found a Glee DVD set and my friend Sarah (who I did go to lunch with that day) brought me cheesecake so I at least got to spend the evening with Mr. Shue and 4 homemade, different versions of cheesecake.

When Matt came home I could tell he was dripping with guilt.  He tried to "make up" for it with gifts but I'm not a gift person and I balked at feeling "bought off."  I understand he had to work; I understand people are busy; I don't understand not taking a bit of planning to make even 10 minutes of someone's birthday special.

And I really felt this "birthdays aren't a big deal when you're an adult" mentality is just an excuse to not have to exert time and attention anywhere besides work/finances/hobbies.  When really, shouldn't we go the extra mile for those people ... not matter how old they are?

I'm generally quick to get angry but this time, I just cried--because it felt bad to not to celebrated.

Out of that pity party came a super-strong resolution: birthdays do matter and the people we love are worth celebrating (at least once a year).  So no matter how busy we get or how far he travels or how early the day starts or how sick the kids get or how tight money is, I will always acknowledge and celebrate the people I love.

What I think about birthdays is that they matter.

No one should be Samatha Bakered (or worse).

Even if you've had seventy-five birthdays, they still matter.
Even if you stopped counting how old you are at 27, they still matter.
Even if you hate being celebrated, they still matter (we'll send you a card).

As long as people matter, their birthdays matter.

*DISCLAIMER* On Feb. 10th I saw that is was a friend's birthday on Facebook.  I decided to tell her happy birthday in person ... and then I forgot.  Dear friend, I apologize :)*

DISCLAIMER #2--My husband is amazing.  He loves and cherishes me.  This is just one of those "oh crap" moments in his life that I'll let him forget in 30 years (see, if he did stuff like this more often it'd roll off my back). ILY, Matt!

Thanks to SHELL at THINGS I CAN'T SAY for always hosting my random Wednesday thoughts!


  1. HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY! I didn't know when your birthday was or I would have sent you a message. I have had times when my birthday was sort of meh, I now try to do something special on my birthday, I don't mind that I've had to organise it just that people are willing to have fun with me.
    Still, lay the guilt trip on your husband and next year you won't have to worry about him not spending ten minutes celebrating with you.

  2. I'm so sorry! I think everyone should feel super special on their birthday. I agree, it's not about gifts, it's about people taking a minute to acknowledge the fact that this is the day you were born and that you are special, important and most of all, that you matter. I always go over the top with my friends and family's birthdays. I call with a happy birthday song at midnight, bake cupcakes, and lavish lots of attention upon them.

    I hope next year you are treated like a princess. :)

  3. I totally felt the same way on my birthday. Khale had to work and while I did go to the mall with my sister-in-law, it was totally a errand type trip. Only one of my nine siblings called, my parents forgot which year I was born, and Lil was royally cranky all day. We did go out for dinner but nobody said happy birthday during the dinner so it felt like any other day when we go out for dinner.

    Needless to say, I cried too. And informed Khale that birthdays suck when you're an adult.

  4. I think we all have this experience the first time our birthday is forgotten (my first was my 30th - maybe not so bad after all). Maybe it's because we spend so much time slaving over kids' birthday cakes and presents and decorations that we get this mentality that, "O.K. it's my turn now and this had better be good".

    Even though we don't do it for the recognition, it would be nice to have a day where we're the ones who are special every now and again.

  5. I completely understand. For the last 7 years my birthday has come and gone with out much hoopla. This year I even planned my own family birthday dinner. It would be nice for once to have someone take charge and do the planning and have it be a surprise.

    I'm sorry your birthday wasn't great. I wish I would of known you were home alone, I would of come over and celebrated with you!

  6. Happy Birthday! I recently celebrated a my birthday is a very similar fashion. Not much acknowledgement other than a few greetings on Facebook. I think that we should continue to celebrate our birth as we get older.

  7. Birthdays really should always be special. B/c we all matter and I don't think it's hard to do something special on someone's birthday.

    I bet you have a fabulous one next year b/c your husband has learned. Or, throw a party for yourself!

  8. I completely feel the same way! My best friend is great when it comes to my birthday, I can always count on her even though she lives so far away. But for some others it's like I barely cross their mind. I don't ask for a lot, just to be acknowledged on my birthday. Little things go a long way with me.


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