14 days down, 351 days to go!
Dear February 21st,
Every year I look forward to you less and less. I know, that is awful to say because birthdays are so important to me; I live for them! When I was a kid, my mom always made February 21st feel like a national holiday in honor of me. She made me feel so special, so loved, so important. It was great having a day just FOR ME. And I loved it. But you see now that I am a mom, even though the day theoretically is about me, it’s not. It’s about these 4 kiddos I brought into this world and their needs. And while I love them dearly, I miss the guarantee that 1 day a year was completely (mostly) about me and that I had more control over how the day went, how I wanted to spend it. And while I have some input over how I want to spend my birthday, as a mom, I certainly don’t have control over how the day goes!!! Just wanted to let you know that I miss how you used to be, I guess. But do please keep coming every year for lots of years to come!!!
The Orange Rhino
Birthdays are just DIFFERENT when you are a parent. Yes I know. I am supposed to see the joy in my sons’ eyes lighting up seeing my birthday cake and feel that joy seep into my body. Then I am supposed to tingle all over with happiness and say wow, it’s great to be a mom I am so lucky. But I’m sorry, without fail just about every birthday that tingly feeling is less now that I am a mom. I mean yes, I get that feeling in very small doses throughout the day, like when my boys sing Happy Birthday or give me big hugs when prompted or give me handmade cards daddy helped them to make. Those moments are great. That’s not the problem.
It’s my expectations that are the problem! My mom set the bar too high! I want a perfect birthday – the one day a year where I can just relax and feel okay doing that. Where I can indulge in me and that is okay. And it is just really gosh darn hard to do that as a mom because there is always someone needing something. I still dream of the 1 perfect day a year – where the kids will sleep in, behave beautifully, play together flawlessly and shower me with love all day. And I dream that day will happen on my birthday as the perfect gift to me. In that dream of course the boys are dressed in perfectly clean outfits and they run and jump into bed to wake me up at noon and we all share a big bear hug and Daddy takes a picture and SNAP! My perfect birthday memory is caught. Just like Hallmark birthday cards tell me it should be. The only snapping going on my birthday today is SNAP! Wake up from your dream!
Today, as a birthday present, #2 got the stomach bug and my husband was traveling. So instead of waking to a husband telling me happy birthday and reminding the kids to tell me it was my birthday, I woke up at 430 with two sick kids in my bed. None of my four boys realized it was my birthday until we went downstairs to find the cupcake with a candle in it daddy left out (smart move hubby!) or the birthday cards from friends I had left out (good job friends!) I tried to see if the boys wanted to sing Happy Birthday to me (they too love birthdays!) but of course #1 started throwing up again, #2 was curled up in a ball, #3 was crying for milk and #4 was whining for his bottle or because his 1st tooth is coming in. Who knew.
All I knew is that I felt very lonely at that very moment. I just wanted to start my day feeling special and loved. And while I know my kids feel that, at their tender ages of 5 and under, it’s hard for them to know that Birthdays are a great day to show it.
So I cleaned up the vomit, wiped off my tears, blew out my candle, and went on with my day as a mommy, not the Birthday Girl.
Luckily there are good friends and facebook! Girlfriends to the rescue – flowers and birthday cake arrived, cards arrived, phone calls poured in, and facebook messages posted. Not feeling so lonely anymore. Everyone was wishing me what I was wishing for too…some moments to myself, to be spoiled by my boys. At least I knew I wasn’t totally off and alone in my expectations Phew. Birthday meltdown averted. Momentarily.
Since realizing it was my birthday, the boys wanted cake and juice boxes, you know like all birthday parties. I didn’t want them to have cake and throw it up but they were insistent. ALL DAY. Starting at 7:25 am. It wasn’t stopping. Finally I decided they could sing happy birthday to me, help me blow out the candles, and have a juice box and a small small small piece of cake. Well it turns out my small wasn’t big enough. Shocker.
“I want more!”
“I’m a big boy, I want a big piece of cake”
“I feel a thousand times better”
It was out of control. It was a no win situation. If I didn’t give them cake, tears. If I game them too much, vomit. Neither of these things were on my birthday wish list….
The tears started again. This time, they were mine. All I wanted was a peaceful, loving rendition of Happy Birthday. I wanted my Hallmark Birthday moment where for a moment, just a moment, life IS perfect. Well, that, and I too wanted to share the cake with my boys because while I say it is all about me, they are part of me now. And I wanted to share my happiness with them. I hated that I couldn’t.
The tantruming was growing louder and stronger. I was going to snap. I think the tears had a hold of me and instead of snapping I said calmly (or sadly?)
“I don’t want to yell. Please don’t make me yell. It’s my Birthday. I don’t want to yell.”
And guess what? I didn’t yell. Just saying those words “I don’t want to yell” out loud kept me in line.
We, my boys and I, got through the great stomach bug-birthday cake debacle of 2012 without anymore tears. And while my birthday isn’t the same anymore, and is generally guaranteed to be louder and more demanding than years past, and it is never all about me anymore, I guess that’s okay. It’s okay because my love for birthdays has simply been passed on to 4 other days of year besides February 21st. it’s been passed on to the days my sons were born. Now I put the same energy my mom put into my birthday, into theirs, so that they know just how much special they are and certainly how loved.
It’s my birthday and I might still cry if I want to…but at least it’s not because I yelled 😉
P.S. To all of my 52 followers, thanks for supporting me and my new Challenge. Secret birthday wish (besides the peace and quiet) was to get 50 FB likes. A wish come true. Thank you!