Every year when my birthday rolls around I cringe, knowing that it will be yet another day filled with disappointment. I don’t know precisely when this began, but I’m thinking it must have been around the birth of my first child. Parent birthdays definitely take a backseat to the kidlet’s. In my case, I think it’s because by the time it’s my birthday I’m out of enthusiasm and money — but that doesn’t stop me from having high expectations.
Last year was the worst. I went through the entire day and no one outside of my family even said “happy birthday.” In fact, I don’t even think my dad remembered to call me. In the case of my friends I realized it was because none of them had known me for very long — only four or five years — and how could they wish me a happy birthday if they didn’t even know when it was?
So this year I vowed not to fall into pathetic self-pity. When the big day arrived and I was out with my friends I waited to hear the magic words. When they didn’t come I finally burst out “It’s my birthday today,” and beamed. They turned and looked at me and said, with genuine smiles on their faces, “oh, happy birthday,” and then went back to their regularly scheduled programming. I waited for the warm glow to spread through me, but it never came. In fact, I sat there with a bit of an empty feeling and thought, “well that wasn’t any good.”
The next day, as I was still puzzling over yet another lacklustre birthday, one of my oldest friends called to wish me a belated birthday. She asked how it had gone and I gave her a non-commital answer. She said, “you mean a helicopter didn’t swoop down and whisk you off to a tropical island for a week’s holiday?”
That was it! That was what I’d been hoping for! It was the adult equivalent to the fanfare we experience as a kid…only a teensy bit more expensive and complicated to organize.
I said, “No. Can you believe it?”
“Yeah. Birthdays aren’t what they used to be are they?”
At least, however, I now knew the root of my dissatisfaction. Maybe next year it won’t bother me so much….or maybe that helicopter will come down and take me away. Hey, I can dream can’t I?
Tags: I hate birthdays