Thursday, October 22, 2015

The (end of) Invisible Birthdays

Today is my birthday.

I’m 36.  

While this is young (it is, right?) it’s kind of scary because I can remember my parents being 36.  I can actually remember my dad’s 30th birthday.  It’s bizarre when I really sit and think about how fast time goes. 
My parents had a way of making birthdays a really big deal.  We picked dinner, which was decided ahead of time in case mom had to cook.  We were showered with presents, cake and of course birthday treats for school.

Birthdays were a big deal.  And for a very long time, I woke up with that birthday excitement my parents instilled in me as a kid.  I can’t remember when I stopped feeling like my birthday was different than any other day, but a few years ago, it did.

The chaos of my life raising four kids, and the hectic daily routine, took its toll. I started to almost feel embarrassed if people other than close friends knew it was my birthday.  I didn’t want any extra attention, I didn’t want any fuss.  From my nearest and dearest it was okay, but I just didn’t feel like it was necessary from anyone else.

I’m not sure why.  I can’t explain it.

For my kids, we do birthdays big.  I stay up late and decorate their rooms, I spend weeks finding special gifts. They choose dinner and they always have cake.  Treats go to school.  I try to make them feel how I felt all those years on my birthday.

Special.  Remembered.  Appreciated.

Today when I showed up at work, a friend who knew it was my birthday brought a balloon, and a card. The balloon on my desk put my birthday on display.  I felt weird at first.  I almost wondered if I should keep the balloon where everyone could see it.  The other secretaries brought in cupcakes.  The leftovers became another birthday sign.  Throughout the day people came in and out of my office wishing me a good day.  They asked about my plans, we shared laughs about how we celebrate and a few people brought me treats. 

It felt good to be acknowledged.  I’m not sure why I hid from it for so long.  As parents we push ourselves aside and we focus on what needs to be done.  Eventually, taking time for ourselves feels wrong.  Spending money on ourselves feels like a waste.  We make do with the minimum and do for everyone else.  It’s almost as if we become invisible. 

Not literally of course, but in the sense that our needs just get pushed aside there is nothing screaming “this is me!  I am here!”  We just go and do, and go and do.  It’s a pattern.  We celebrate everything our kids do, and their success is our success.

But what about us?

Every day I’m the first one up and the last one in bed.  Many of my shirts have grease stains, which you can only see if you look closely, in the sun.  I go months in between trips to the salon and my wardrobe consists mainly of school tees, sweatshirts and jeans.

None of this bothers me.  Well except the first up and last to bed. I don’t want fancy clothes because I don’t like to wear them. I prefer to be comfortable. I don’t need haircuts and hair color only bothers me when the top half of my head is brown and bottom is blond. My perfect night is home with my kids, in my pajamas, eating good food and watching movies.

Which is why it’s okay to get balloons. It’s okay to let one day a year be about ourselves.  Just one.

We all deserve a day to eat cupcakes and to be remembered.  It's okay to feel like something is actually for us.  Today, for the first time in years, my birthday felt different from every other day.

It felt good.

We deserve it ladies.  And God Bless the mamas…mine is still making my birthday as special as possible and I’m 36.  Our babies will always be our babies, and I’m so blessed to have learned from the best.

By the way, here is a cheesy picture I made of myself , in honor of my birthday, several years ago.

Cheers all.  Let those birthdays roll and celebrate.

1 comment:

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