In just a few weeks, I will be turning the “Big Four Oh”. Yes, 40. How can that be? I remember hanging out as a teenager by bonfires and going to the teen dances like it was just last week. Sometimes I remember them better than I remember last week! Where does the time go? One second you are 17 and have the world and your whole life before you, then all of a sudden, you are the so called old lady in the room. Twenty-somethings seem like teenagers. Teenagers seem like babies. Yet, I really don’t feel all that different than when I was a teenager. Sure I’ve learned a little bit more about life, and I have had a few more experiences, but inside I still feel like the same girl I was back then.
So now I am faced with this milestone of sorts, and I don’t know what I am suppose to do with that. My birthdays the last three years have been, well um, in a word, shitty. My birthday falls right around Thanksgiving time. This has always worked out well for me. I always take most of the week off of work. My family comes to visit (or we go there when it is possible). We have a great Thanksgiving meal. I go Black Friday shopping with [someone]. Then there may be a separate birthdy celebration in there. Whether or not there is a separate birthday celebration usually depends on my husband’s work schedule. Being a chef, he is in high demand around the holidays, and it isn’t always feasible. But we still always manage to do something. Until the past three years crept up on me.
2008 – This year started out good. Like any other. But then my kids were in rare form…and not the good kind either. My dad takes medication for a brain aneurysm he had 27 years ago, and that year his medication mix was not a good balance. The morning of my birthday he had enough of them. In order to keep his own sanity, he and my mom had to leave “immediately”. I understood. But it still hurt. It was the morning my birthday. My husband was at work. I was alone (except for my two wild children). I ended up spending my birthday with a friend at another acquaintenance’s house – getting drunk.
2009 – My Black Friday shopping partner (I won’t say who) bailed on me, and so I went by myself. I was miserable, standing in line at Target where I could smell the Starbucks coffee, but couldn’t leave the line to get any. Saturday was my birthday. My husband left for work without me even knowing it. He called a few moments later to ask if he had wished me a happy birthday. He didn’t. He hadn’t even said goodbye, so I didn’t know he left until it was too late. I ended up spending my birthday at a 2-year-old’s birthday party that was being celebrated a week late. Why did they have to pick that day? I guess because it helped with the holiday and their family. Joy. My husband, kids and I did go to dinner later with his parents, and that was very nice.
2010 – My parents came to town with the children they now have custody of (my cousins). That was nice. But once again, on Black Friday, my shopping partner bailed. God Bless my mom for stepping up at 3 am and going with me. When I got home I was so exhausted all I wanted to do was sleep, but I could hear all four kids running up and down the stairs, and sleep just wasn’t happening. Then I was awaken by a phone call. My brother was calling to inform us that my sister-in-law was being admitted into the hospital to deliver their twins – two months early. While a blessing…it made the day was highly stressful. There was no sleeping after that. Saturdaywas Zach’s birthday (my cousin). We threw an impromtu birthday party for him, and that was very nice. I am glad we did that for him. (I want the best for these kids, for they are in a tough situation.) Then it was my turn to celebrate, since my birthday was Sunday, and my family would be leaving that day. I had this gradiose idea that we would all go do a little shopping, have dinner and then go see the latest Harry Potter movie that was out. My mom told me to just go to dinner with my husband. I should have listened. No, I wanted everyone to have a good time. In the end, no one had a good time. I walked the mall listening to everyone bitching. I was miserable. I never did bring up going to the movie, just because. Sunday my family left, and my husband and kids and I went to see Harry Potter. Once again, my own kids did not wish to go. I felt like no one wanted to be with me this year. My friends (who always have birthday lunches for each other every year) blew me off (or so I thought). A week later, they did invite me to go to lunch to celebrate. A nice gesture, but by then I had already felt forgotten. I know…better late than never, right? Not always.
I suppose I am at an age that I shouldn’t care about celebrating birthdays any longer. But that just isn’t the case. I have always considered it my own personal new year. I’ve survived to see another year. I want to be recognized, but exactly how? I am not quite sure myself anymore. So after the past three incidents, part of me thinks I should just forget about it. But I’ll be 40! It should be grand! If I hope for something, I’m afraid I may be setting myself up for disappointment. If I tell people what I want (as if I knew myself), it’s like buying your own gift…no fun! If I say I don’t want to do anything, and people listen, well then I just push disappointment on myself. So exactly what do I want? What should I want? Why do I have to decide anyway? Surprise me!
I would love to know how other people celebrate these milestones.