8 minute memoir - Birthdays
Birthdays always feel like a complicated affair for me. It's really nice to have a day that other people acknowledge as a special day you were born and yet somehow that's always a little uncomfortable for me too. Birthdays have often been this weird let down kind of feeling for me - even when I was much younger, and I've never been able to explain where that comes from really. I've gotten into fights with friends on my birthday. I've cried after leaving a birthday celebration. I really related to Betheny Frankel when she spent her birthday crying in the bathroom at an extravagent party. It's never been the fault of anyone - but it's always just felt like a very strangely disappointing day.
This year on my work calendar I noticed on July 27th it said "take off this day if you still work here". I made that little note on the calendar a year earlier. I remember that birthday, when I turned 48 was a particularly trying day for me. It was a day filled with stress, both personal stress and stress at work. And I remember when I finally got around to going to dinner with 2 of my kids that evening I just felt like that birthday was more stressful than most and hence, the next day I made this nice little mental note and calendar note to take off my birthday next time it came around.
As July approached I didn't delete the note to myself but I also did not plan to take off that day. It seemed silly and wasteful to use one of my vacation days on a day when actually, I probably didn't have much to do to celebrate anyway. Besides, who celebrates 49?
But every day in July when I logged into my calendar and scanned my appointments, there that little reminder sat blinking away at me. It sort of taunted me. I thought about deleting it, but I couldn't quite make it go away. It felt like if I deleted it 48 year old me from 2015 was going to be pretty irritated with 2016 me.
Finally, the week before I turned 49 I arranged to have the day off.
It was the best decision of my life. Okay, that's a little hyberbolic, it was a good decision. The best decision of my life was deciding to have kids. My kids have always made my birthdays really great. I think it's just me that's always overthinking on my birthday. Having the day off this year helped me to not overthink it. I went with the flow. Jordan and I got crêpes. I did a little shopping. I got a pedicure. I went to dinner with my kids and had a delicious burger.
Here's the thing. I actually think I do know the reasons my birthdays are complicated affairs for me. And it's more than I want to divulge in an 8 minute memoir. Maybe you have complicated feelings about your birthdays too. Lots of people do.
What I know for sure is when July 27, 2017 rolls around I will be taking that day off too. I already made a note. I'll be floating in my pool, having lunch with someone I love, or eating a Sprinkles cupcake. Whether I'm alone or with other people the secret is this - just be nice to yourself that day. I'm the one who has been screwing up my birthdays this whole time. I'm guessing that's why birthdays feel great when you're 1 - you're too young to get in your own way of having a great time.