Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I’m not big on birthdays. When I was much younger I always reminded everyone of mine. As I got older and began experiencing the distance between my family and me, I stopped the reminders as an experiment to see what would happen. You know what happened? Nothing!

There were several years when no one remembered my birthday, or if they did I’d get a call a week or two afterwards explaining how busy they were. My mother remembered most often – not always just most often. When my dad married my second stepmother, I always got cards – often late, but she was very organized so they always arrived.

My little sister and I were both struggling financially for quite a while, so we never got in the habit of cards. Phone calls were more likely for us, but we always lived so far apart it wasn’t easy to communicate. My older sister lived about 45 minutes away from me for the 11 years I lived in Chicago. She never remembered my birthday unless I reminded her.

I always remembered their birthdays and being a dutiful middle child I called – always within a day of the actual date. And they always forgot.

Tuesday was my mother’s 87th birthday. I called her today - Wednesday. I pretended to be cheerful and happy to talk to her. I wasn’t. But I did my duty.

Today would have been my dad’s 90th birthday. I would have called. I would have done my duty.

I wish I liked birthdays.


Anonymous said...

Being the dutiful child when you feel otherwise.... I can relate to that.

Bernita said...

I'm not fond of my own, in fact I tend to dread it - primarily because some crisis always seemed to erupt at the same time.

Merry Jelinek said...

I'm disliking my own birthday more and more... We didn't do big birthday bashes when I was a kid, I think just cake and presents from my parents and then I always got cards with money from the relatives. As I got older, my dad just took me out for a nice dinner with the family and he never once forgot my birthday.

For my kids I make a huge deal out of it, they each get a kids party with their classmates and we have a family dinner with cake and the whole thing on a different day - not to mention, if their family dinner or kids party don't fall on their actual birthdate - they get to pick our dinner on their birthday and get presents from us and each other. My boys' birthdays are only five days apart so May becomes very hectic for me.

I like them each to get the sense that everyone gets their own special day, and they each get excited about the others' birthdays.

Unfortunately, as I'm the one running all of the hoopla, I wind up having to make my own birthday dinner and cake (I'd prefer not to at all but the kids look forward to the cake) No one else really pays much attention to my birthday - my mom usually remembers a few days later and my mother in law usually calls and gets me a gift... My dad passed away six years ago and to be honest, his is the only birthday call I really miss.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

My bros forgot my birthday this year, and I forgot theirs. Oh well. It's not too big a deal.

The Anti-Wife said...

Dutiful sucks!

Back then my life was one crisis after another anyway. Birthdays just made it worse.

The Anti-Wife said...

What you do for your kids now is great. Just make sure you don't ever forget their special day and commemorate it some way.

Having siblings forget once in a while is pretty normal - especially if you all have families. Having your parents forget........ Let's just say it's not pretty.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

My dad (mostly estranged, but weirdly due to deafness) didn't acknowledge mine. It was my 40th. You know, those round numbers tend to bring out the beasts.

Church Lady said...

This is a sad posting.

Birthdays are huge to me. We even had a birthday party for my older son's teddy bear. I got cake and presents and had a playgroup over at the house.

The distance with one's family is something I can also relate to. I'm trying so hard to balance being helpful but not letting my mother suck too much positive energy out of me. She can be a real user at times. I can barely talk to her anymore without feeling like utter crap. But I feel sorry for her, and don't want to add negativity to her life. I just want a safe distance between us.

Ello said...

I feel for you. Family can drive you crazy but there is nothing you can do about it. But at least you can celebrate your own birthday and be happy for yourself. My parents always remember my birthday, my mom tells me its because she can never forget that day since it was the most horrendous pain she ever had in her life. I'm always like, wish you'd forget already!

kathie said...

Oh my gosh, Anti---what a sad post. It's amazing how milestones like birthdays and other holidays bring to bear all the stuff we can keep at bay most of the time. I'm thinking of you.