On the day before my birthday, I pulled a blank piece of paper out of the printer, folded it in half, and handed it to my daughter.
“Tomorrow is mommy’s birthday,” I informed her. “Would you please make me a card?”
Birthday?? That’s the magic word for kids!
So why are they so utterly incapable of understanding the significance of the day when it’s their mother who’s celebrating? Why don’t they cut us any slack?
Why did I have to fight with my five-year-old about who could use the coveted “flower spoon” at breakfast on my special day? Why did my two-year-old scratch my face during my birthday dinner when I wouldn’t let her eat with the chopsticks she’d been throwing on the floor?
Of course, I know why: because kids don’t give a crap that it’s your birthday.
So, if you want to have a happy birthday, one that doesn’t just feel like every other day of your life as a mother, I’ve got some advice.
1. Plan ahead
No one’s going to throw you a surprise party with all your closest friends and family. Heck, no one’s going to throw you a party at all!
So if you want to celebrate, make plans yourself, preferably NOT at your house so you can avoid the stresses of hosting. Gather all your girlfriends at your favorite restaurant, and leave your husband home with the kids. Or call a babysitter and hit the town with your man. Or both! Either way, the kids aren’t a part of this equation.
2. Treat yourself to something frivolous
Because, as someone once told me, “No one loves you quite the way YOU love you.” Don’t expect anyone to read your mind and swoop in with the perfect birthday present to brighten your day. Buy your own present.
Make it something good. Something you’d never splurge on if it weren’t your birthday. Something you wouldn’t buy on a normal Target run. Something that matters to you and you alone.
This is your only day of the year to be selfish (heck, you’ve got to share Mother’s Day with all those other moms!).
3. Head to the bakery
It doesn’t matter how much you love to bake; no one should have to make their own birthday cake.
Get to the bakery and pick a cake in your favorite flavor. (Who cares if the kids won’t eat carrot cake??) Don’t forget the candles. You’ll want to blow out at least one. Be prepared to lead the singing and to share the honor of blowing out the candles.
4. Expect nothing
If you’ve taken it upon yourself to make your birthday a memorable one, then you won’t be disappointed if others don’t come through. Make your own happiness. Any other acknowledgements of your birthday (presents, cards, messages) are just icing on the cake (yes, pun intended).
5. Say thank you
The only people who will find this day as special as you are your parents. Congratulate them on parenting you through long sleepless nights, toddler tantrums, bratty teenage years, and everything else you can’t even imagine is coming on this journey of parenthood.
Say thank you and mean it. They deserve this. Plus, it’s just good karma.
* * *
When my daughter reappeared with my birthday card, I held back tears. She’d filled it with party scenes and sweet messages that she wouldn’t have ordinarily conveyed.
A happy birthday, indeed!