celebrating a birth.
Our family has entered its busy birthday season. Ruby, Emma, Myles, me, and Kelly all have birthdays within three weeks of each other. 1, 2, 7, 31, and 33 respectively. We’ve had our fill of sugar, bubbles, pizza, family, and laser tag.
Jason asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year and I couldn’t think of a single thing. There wasn’t anything that I wanted. There still isn’t. I’m pretty content. I guess that a lunch out with him sounds nice. Maybe hiring someone to clean our ceiling fans and blinds. Some seeds for the garden. He did plan an evening out with friends to celebrate. We’re going bowling. We’ll drink some beer, order pizzas, and throw heavy balls towards some pins and crack funny and inappropriate jokes at each other. Probably something about balls. They’ll be even funnier if someone gets a bright blue one. Okay. I’ll admit. That is what I want for my birthday. Blue ball jokes with friends.
Don’t you remember as a kid, or a 20 something, and waking up on your birthday? The light shone at different angles in your house making the day feel like a dream. Your birthday physically changed the shape of the world and everyone around you noticed it, too, or so you believed. Special days tend to do that. Your brain changes the space around you and it looks different. It’s special. It’s yours. But every year I wake up on my birthday the dreaminess diminishes a little more. Kind of like how Christmas just doesn’t feel the same as when you were a kid. Isn’t this what Peter Pan warned against or something? Or maybe the fraud of Santa has just ruined us all. I find myself caring a little less each year. It’s actually pretty liberating. The bar is low. That crushing expectation you felt as a 16 year old isn’t there anymore. Thank God.
I’m starting to think that birthdays aren’t really our own days. I don’t remember my birth. I don’t remember my parents and my aunt and my grandparents staring at me, memorizing me, kissing me, and crying over me. No. That day could all be a lie for all I know. Well, I’m here, so some of it is obviously true. But for 31 years I’ve been celebrating a day that I don’t remember. I often wonder if my parents remember it. Or if they think of it. On March 2nd do they think of the day that they first became young parents? Do they remember their happiness and fear? Are they racked with guilt and try to forget it?
On my kids’ birthdays I remember it all. I reminisce about the day humanity gained them. How we gained them. I do it with my nieces and nephews and friend’s kids, too. Going back and remembering the joyful days that my friends had their babies, I always want to call my them and wish them a happy birthday instead of their kids. Because we sat around a hospital bed and loved on their fresh new baby. Took pictures. Ate milkshakes. Smiled. Oh, we smiled. That’s what I always think about and remember on birthdays. And maybe that’s why the older I get and the more children born around me, the less I care about my own birthday. Honestly, adult birthdays often allude me. I think more about their parents and family that were there for their birth. They remember it. Probably very fondly. It seems like it should be a day of celebration for them.
But you gotta know something about me. I’m not a big fanfare type of a person. I’m not into making big spectacles out of myself or other people. I like to celebrate things modestly and quietly. I’m naturally a cynic. So, melodramatic and overly sentimental things make me roll my eyes. The most thoughtful and caring things, for me, are a simple cake. Flowers. Cards. A game. A few decorations. Blue ball jokes. That’s how I like to celebrate the people around me. No pressure. No stress. Low expectations. And lots of memories.