I actually forgot it was my birthday when I was chatting to The Mothership recently. I let her know that my day was free, I had nothing planned so if she wanted to use my car and go out with Dad for the day then she could. I told her I was just going to stay at home and take it easy. Probably do some laundry. Might even clean the toilet. She looked surprised and asked if I was still going to lunch (with Hubby). “Why would I be going to lunch?”, I replied.
Because it’s your birthday!”
I had genuinely and completely forgotten!
That’s not really like me. When I was younger I would look forward to my birthday all year. I remember spending hours upon HOURS looking through the Argos catalogue (or, as Bill Bailey puts it, the laminated book of dreams) and picking out all of the items I felt I needed. As an older teenager there would be week long celebrations and sometimes I’d even try and pass off the whole month as mine. In my twenties I still had a certain excitement. It wasn’t like when I was a kid, or even a teenager, but it was there.
Now I have children I’m naturally more selfless. I’ve already gotten most of the girls birthday gifts sorted for January (I AM NOT tackling the stores so soon after Christmas) and have even begun to think about Little Man’s, which is at the end of February. I’ve really enjoyed planning theirs, thinking about cakes and other special ways to make the day amazing for them. Mine just doesn’t seem as fun as what theirs will be. I think, especially as an adult and maybe even more so as a parent, the pleasure is definitely in the giving. I’m not discounting my birthday as unimportant, but I guess it’s just not something I care about as much anymore and, personally, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.
Comparisons between what my children say today and what I said thirty years ago is something I find myself doing often. It’s also not unusual for me to sound like one of my parents. For example, Little Man recently inquired about Mother’s Day and asked when does he get a day. Replying “EVERY DAY IS YOUR DAY” immediately transported me back to 1996 and the time I debated with my friends on the walk to school as to the unfair reasoning behind why there wasn’t a Child’s Day.
Becoming a parent has made me realise lots of things. Like how much my folks worked and appreciation for the clean house I grew up in, the clothes on my back and healthy meals I ate. Back then I took it all for granted – like you do as a child. Finances can get pretty tight and so the Needs obviously start to outweigh the Wants. I value how fortunate we are to be able to provide the essential things plus more for our children. So, the older I get, the less I want.
Today, there is nothing I crave or feel like I’m missing. There is no material thing that you could give me that would fill me with that same excitement as a five year old. In my mind I have everything I could ever ask for. A nice home, a loving partner, beautiful children and an abundance of caring family and friends. We’re all relatively healthy and enjoying life. So lunch or no lunch, presents or no presents, special meal cooked or plain Vegemite sandwich; I feel like I’m still kinda’ winning today.