The ironic thing about being a mom with small kids is that while your life seems to revolve around OTHER people’s birthdays–the whole bounce house, do-you-want-Sponge-Bob-or-Captain-America, goody bags up the wazoo deal–your own birthday absolutely sucks. Woo-hoo, the princess is turning six! Non-prosti-tot spa makeovers for everyone! But Mommy gets a year older and no one even throws me a pity party! I mean, seriously??
Correction. I didn’t really want a pity party. What a I really wanted was a nice new purse. To carry all of the crap I lug around for everyone else in my family (crayons, binky, Hexbugs, hand sanitizer). Or a spa gift certificate, which I might never actually get to redeem, so at least the promise of being pampered lingered in the distant future.
It’s not fair to say my birthday was completely ignored. I wasn’t like Molly Ringwald in “Sixteen Candles.” Several hundred of my Facebook friends remembered the day with a heartfelt, “Happy Bday.” And my kids and husband were very sweet and choreographed a funny “it’s your birthday” dance. My daughter drew maybe seven or eight drawings of me being surrounded with beautifully wrapped presents.
The problem? Why am I complaining? Because I did not actually receive a beautifully wrapped present. A dance and illustrations of the presents were all I got.
If that sounds incredibly materialistic and ungrateful of me, well, fine. Be that way. But please keep in mind that about one-third of the time that I am not working, commuting, diffusing tantrums, packing lunches, signing field trip permission slips or wiping runny little noses is spent dealing with birthdays. Booking parties. RSVPing to other people’s events. Buying presents, then beautifully (or not so beautifully) wrapping them. Bugging the kids to write thank you notes (which I occasionally forget to mail.)
About two days after my actual birthday, my husband gave me a greeting card. It was a lovely greeting card, with one key defect. When I shook it, no spa gift certificate emerged. I tried to remain calm. I remembered the sweet birthday song and dance and my daughter’s lovely drawings. But I couldn’t help it. Waterworks ensued. I stood there holding the card, sobbing this weird kind of cry that I only do when I am not actually sad, but really, really mad.
Sensing that he’d seriously screwed up (I might have actually used those words), my husband grabbed his iPhone and bought me an Urban Outfitters dress (is there not an app for everything??). But the dress he chose only served to prolong the birthday agony when it arrived a week or so later and was insultingly unwearable.
I’m an Ann Taylor Loft Size Four (which is like being a Size Eight anywhere else in the planet, but it’s pretty much why I shop at Ann Taylor Loft as often as I can…Vanity sizing? Yes, please!). Who knew that this translated into an Urban Outfitters Size XXXXXXXL? He’d ordered me a medium.
Trying to pull the wretched thing over my suddenly enormous-seeming body was a process that literally aged me. When my face finally emerged through the tight neck hole, it was red, puffy, flustered and crinkled with anguish. I told my husband HE would have to process the return. I immediately began to fantasize about the enormous leather tote I’d be buying myself at Neiman-Marcus the next day to give myself the birthday gift I deserved.
Then I came back to reality and remembered the cost of camp, braces, college and all of those birthday parties. Plus, no matter how much money you spent on a purse, it just wouldn’t have that “cool factor” if it was stuffed with sippy cups and wipes, which it would be, invariably, if it was mine.
It’s a good thing Mother’s Day is right around the corner. I think this year, I’m going to make out like a bandit. (Hint, HINT. Yes, sweetie, I am talking to YOU.)