Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer Birthdays Suck

Today is my birthday. 

Annnnd you're singing that Beatles song right now, aren't you? It's okay, I understand.  If you would like to throw in a little air guitar to spice things up, go ahead.
My husband is excited when his birthday rolls around. Larry is actually excited for the entire month of September.   He is practically giddy with joy for the entire week of his birthday. My son is so ecstatic about his birthday that he starts talking about next year the day after. The exuberance in this household come September and October is so powerful that it could power a city block.

I barely manage a facial expression in June.

My birthday has never been a big deal.  My mom never went overboard scheduling parties, because we were usually moving in or out of a place.  My eighth birthday, for instance, took place the day we arrived in Germany.  Even if my mom tried to set up a birthday party, the timing was never good. People go on vacations, after all, so even if my mom actually wanted to throw me a party, people weren't around to attend.  But we were on a budget, and money didn't grow on trees, my mother told us repeatedly.

But then my mother was really obsessed with my britches. She thought I was too big for them, that I expected too much. We didn't have a lot of money at the time, but I was a kid and I didn't understand that. I should be grateful for what I got, she said, on more than one occasion. Maybe she was right, but I thought that being treated extra special one day a year wasn't too much.  How many other kids out there have to make their own birthday cake when they turn thirteen? I can't be the only one.

Even in college, my birthday would happen after everyone had gone home, so few ever remembered.  And when you're an adult in the workplace, not many people pay attention to birthdays. There were moments, over the years, where someone would surprise me with a piece of cake or remember it was my birthday, and I grew to appreciate those times. Most of the time, however, my birthday was just another workday.

I am not sure what I even expect from my birthday. That part has become muddled over the years.  Since most movies and television shows depicted "perfect" celebrations of birthdays, with the parties and the cake, that was probably what I wished for as a child. I never wanted a pony. I would have settled for cake and ice cream, then.  These days, a nice pinot noir with some friends would do. 

Finally I just stopped getting excited about birthdays. It wasn't really worth the small pity party I would feel obligated to throw myself every year when whatever I expected didn't happen.  I stopped mentioning their approach, I stopped thinking about them, I just...stopped. 

Except my husband and son expect me to be excited. They expect me to be giddy like they are, to trip around the house wearing the gossamer wings of the Birthday Fairy.  I try to share their excitement, but I am not always successful. It's not that I don't appreciate their enthusiasm; I do.  I'm just afraid.  Afraid to have expectations. Afraid to be disappointed. Afraid that my reaction, or lack of a reaction, will never be good enough for other people.

Afraid that I'm too big for my britches.


  1. Loved this! I have a June birthday, so I always loved having it in school, but my brother is August, and he never got to celebrate with his friends because they were always on vacation! I think as you get older birthday bliss starts to fade, and it just becomes another day. At least that's what I told myself when I hit 25...

  2. I have an early August birthday, so I understand some of your complaints. I finally hid my birth date on Facebook. All of those greetings actually made me feel worse.
    But, comparing my experience to your story, I shouldn't complain. Other people made me cake or planned the parties. Of course, I share the day with my dad, so I've never had that one day to myself.

  3. 1) happy birthday
    2) try having a birthday close to Christmas, so you get asked whether you want a birthday present or a Christmas present, pick one. You'd think after this happened to me for years my parents would have planned my little sister's birthday better, but nooooo.....

  4. Your birthday stress is like my holiday stress. I hate holidays, and expectations (my own, other people's) dog me in the winter. Except for my birthday which is December 14. My Mom made sure I got one, even though we could rarely get a party and one year the skating rink we had reserved forgot about us and CLOSED. It's my one bright spot between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when I spent my days managing expectations and trying to not share my hatred of holidays with the kids while still somehow meeting THEIR expectations which are fueled by childhood and an advertising culture that I loathe. So. Although I love my birthday, I SO feel you.

  5. My daughter's birthday is in December, and for her sake, I've always wished it was any other time of year, even summer. But maybe I'm wrong. Birthday/holiday expectations are always so hard. I try to keep my expectations low, too, to avoid disappointment.

  6. Aw. Happy Birthday! I loved, "trip around the house wearing the gossamer wings of the Birthday Fairy." Hey, it's your birthday, you get to do it however you want! Make them match YOUR mood! Ha!

  7. Damn! I wish I were there so I could make you a cake.

  8. Happy Birthday! I always loved having a summer birthday because it meant I got to avoid the nasty "birthday bumps" tunnel they always made the birthday child endure ;-)

  9. HaPpY BiRtHdAy!!! See, even the letters are dancing for you! I'd sing, but it won't be pretty.

    Tony's birthday was the 21st. Know what he got from me that day? A damn fine grilled ham and cheese sandie-wich. Which was good, since I didn't have the energy for anything else. He liked it... he said he could taste the love.... personally, I think he was just tasting the mayo.

  10. Happy Birthday! I, too, used to loathe birthdays, and for much the same reasons. In my early forties my perspective changed, though. After my first cancer diagnosis, I understood that just being here was the prize. Not the party, or the presents, or the attention. That I had made another trip around the sun and was here to tell about it.

    So celebrate YOU today. Celebrate alone, or with your loved ones, or however you choose. But celebrate.

  11. Nothing strikes more fear and disappointment like bdays. Mine is close to xmas. Not janauary 15 you poor soul close but like it can be xmas in one part of the globe close. I was bummed when I gave birth during the week of xmas my poor baby. When I had my youngest in summer I leapt for joy only to realize lifes cruel joke, as no one can make it for his first birthday because its summer. Sigh

  12. And they're easier to forget the older we become as well. Sigh.

  13. I always downplay my birthday, but I like it as an excuse to do something special -- no matter how small. Do something special for yourself!

  14. FIDDLESTICKS!!!!!!! Not only did I not do my research a few weeks ago, as intended, to decipher when blogger buddies' bdays were, but then Blogger was not working and I wasn't seeing posts....ugh! And now I have bestowed excuses upon you when it was supposed to be COOKIES!!!!! (Is it too hot to send them even?) Happy Belated Birthday dear friend!!!!

  15. I want to come over to you and HUG YOU and SING HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you in my worst but happiest voice ever.
    You know that I love my birthday (even though it's in Feb, close to Valentines Day and um it's WINTER!) and I celebrate all month long.

    I understand how you feel, I just don't feel it myself. I think that I expect too much of the day, the month etc, but I also look at it from a cock-eyed optimist POV. I'm here, I was born and loved and even if it's ONE day a year I deserve to be celebrated.

    As your friend, I know you deserve to be celebrated too. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Tina, today and all month long! XO

  16. The older I get the less interested I am in seeking other's attention on my birthday (I used to not-so-subtly bring it up in conversation to anyone). I'm getting more and more into the "It's my birthday, dammit, and we're going to spend it the way I want to without any guilt." It's working for me. I hope you get as much as you want of that today. Happy Birthday!


I welcome comments, but reserve the right to correct your spelling because I am OCD about it!