Cake. Presents. Parties. What’s not to love?
A lot, actually. But it’s not what you think.
I don’t mind getting older. The more of the temporal stream I have tucked under my belt, the better I feel. For one thing, I have my own car and bank account now. Which means I can pretty much escape any situation I need to. Such was not always the case when I was a wee thing.
What do I hate about birthdays?
I hated how everything always had to be Perfect. If it wasn’t Perfect, I had failed to be loving or anticipatory enough. I hated the subtle digs about how I had ruined the world by being born all day. I hated the double chores, I hated being on eggshells the entire day, I hated the inevitable explosion when I did not produce enough gratitude, or when my face held the wrong expression, or when I didn’t correctly anticipate someone’s mood and needs.
I love other people’s birthdays. I flat-out adore making cakes for my kids and seeing their faces light up, I love calling my sisters and singing my Marilyn Monroe Happy Birthday. I love surprising people with pretty things on the anniversary of their arrival on this planet, because I cannot imagine the world without them. I feel such delight in doing those things for other people, it’s almost shameful.
But my own anniversary is something I’m trying desperately to forget. I wish the day would disappear in fire, and I do my best to unremember it. Every year the loathing gets fractionally less, a bit of desensitization therapy, I guess. Maybe when I’m 80 I’ll finally feel like I’ve earned a place or just some breathing room, and make my peace with the day I came screaming in.