"It's your birthday in three days, and you didn't mention it to me??"
"Why would I? It's just a birthday. Right?"
My heart sank. I really liked this guy. Just a birthday. Did he really say that? We had only known each other since April, two months. The sane part of my brain interrupted my natural reaction of wanting to walk away. I knew the adult thing to do was to explain to him, about me and birthdays. So, even though I felt like I just wanted to go home, I'd try.
I would try to make sense to him, do it differently this time. "Birthdays are very important to me. I use them as the chance to tell someone, 'You count. I'm glad you were born. I'm happy you're here.' Birthdays should never be ignored..." I wanted to continue, but my voice was starting to tighten, and knew I had to stop. Once you go all emotional, people quit listening.
I tried again, less crazy this time. "My birthday is September 21. Please don't forget it. If you do, I know I'll be really hurt, and won't want to see you anymore. September 21."
Birthdays, the day we are born. I celebrate what it means to be here, with the ones I love. I stay up until after midnight decorating the house for our children. I don't just sign their birthday cards, I leave paragraph long letters inside of how much I love them. I toast to them, and let them know I am grateful they are in my life and on this planet with me. I've never made it through any of those words without my voice cracking, not once.
My kids know this about me, my "thing" about birthdays, as they call it.
They know it's part of who their mother is. I hear them talking at the dining room table as they each make a card for me for my birthday the next day:
"It's because she didn't get them when she was little."
"It's because no one told her they were glad she was born."
"This is really important to her, it's her birthday, you know what that means."
"Do an extra good job on your cards, guys."
And, so, with them knowing this about me--their mother, I wake up today to find these glorious cards on the kitchen table from each one:
|"Happy birthday, Mom" from my 16 year old|
|From middlest, my 14 year old|
This one, from my youngest, Baby E
his message inside:
|To my 'beutiful' mother|
Do you know what happened on my birthday, September 21, 1992, with the date mentioned above with the driver's license? He picked me up at 12 o'clock, after asking me to take a half day off of work. In his car's backseat were flowers and a picnic basket. We drove to a quiet park, where we sat on a plaid blanket spread open on still green grass, our picnic basket in the middle, laughing while we ate deli fried chicken with our fingers; and then half way through, my eyes misted over as I saw him reach into the basket and lift out a mini birthday cake.
Seventeen years later, this date is the man who would remind our children, "It's your mom's birthday tomorrow. You know how important birthdays are to her. Do a good job on the cards, boys."
And they do, every year, they do such a good job.
Thank you, my boys, and thank you, Mark.