Since I was little, I have been crazy about my birthday. I want the whole shebang, the whole kit, and caboodle, the whole 9 yards, I am that type of person. I do not know what or why I became that way; I do not know if it was being an only child for 4 years until a younger brother (who, for the record, I never asked for!) came swooping in and stole all my attention (okay…maybe not that but he did steal away the chance at a Disney Cruise and for THAT I will never forgive him…dramatic eye roll).
Exhibit 1: I can still vividly remember my 10th birthday when we went to Appleby’s for dinner (I still stand by Appleby’s being a great restaurant, and I am heartbroken they are hard to find nowadays). At Appleby’s, you get a free dessert and the whole waitstaff to sing you Happy Birthday…you get the whole shebang! While I “patiently” waited for the attention to be turned on me from the entire restaurant I went to the bathroom. While in the bathroom, I could hear it! I could hear the start of Happy Birthday! I WAS GOING TO MISS MY MOMENT!
Thankfully, my mom knew if I missed that moment, the whole town would hear me crying for days, weeks, and months…let us face it, I probably still would be crying over it today. She stopped the staff and asked them to come back in a few minutes, so I could have the moment I was waiting for, the attention I was dreaming of since my last birthday. Not all superheroes wear capes.
Exhibit 2: My elementary school up until 4th grade ended their day at 2:43 PM. I am almost 32 years old, and I remember that because I was born at 2:43 PM, and on my birthday, I thought it was the COOLEST thing that the bell rang at my time of birth. I cannot remember what I had for breakfast if I took my multivitamin, who is who for my children, but I can remember 2:43 PM. I know, I know…judge away; I am the weird birthday girl.
Exhibit 3: I count down my next birthday to the moment my birthday is over. November 14th, I will start with the ½ birthday comments. February 14 ¾ birthday comments, and from there, I remind people monthly to give them a heads up. I like to think I am looking out for them. Maybe that is how I can spin it not to sound as crazy as I am.
Here’s some proof:
So now that you get the picture of my crazy birthday way of life, you will see how my 30th birthday was vastly different and not from what you would normally expect.
I was not afraid or nervous about turning thirty. Sure, it was not a year that I was like, ‘whooohoo how cool’ about it, but I also felt I had accomplished a lot by thirty. I graduated from college, was married, had two amazing little boys, and lived in a beautiful house. From a checklist standpoint, I was sure checking off a lot of boxes, but for my thirtieth birthday, I would have to uncheck a box that I thought I would maybe uncheck at 50,60, maybe even 70. I had to uncheck the box of having a dad. Ton passed away two months before my thirtieth birthday, and the closer my birthday approached, the harder I was having with the thought of during thirty.
It was not the number that was making it hard, not that I was no longer going to be able to tell people I was in my twenties, but I felt like I was closing out the decade that held on to Ton. He knew me in my twenties; he saw what I did and what I had accomplished, and we were together for the twenties. I felt like I was closing the door on our memories, stories, and tales when I was opening a new decade of turning thirty.
What would he think of me in my thirties? Would I make him proud during this decade? What would I wish he could see? What would I be glad that he could not see? I feel like with every year, I have grown as an individual, a wife, and a mother, and it broke my heart that he would not be here physically to watch me continue to grow.
Ton was the man I loved to argue with, the one I would call knowing he would not tell me what I wanted to hear. I knew he would not sugarcoat the conversation; he would get me all riled up; I knew he would say, “Sorry, Sugar Cakes, that’s life” when something would not go my way. He was the person I loved to ask for advice because I knew he tells me his opinion, his version of a strange story he once heard, the way that hydrogen peroxide or gargling with salt water could solve any life issue. Who would I argue with about things that did not matter in my thirties? Who would give me the strangest life tips? Who would put me in my place in my thirties and remind me, “that’s life”?
Turning thirty without him scared me. I was scared to not have him along for the ride of a new decade. I was scared to feel as if I had left a piece of him in my twenties, a piece of him in my past. I was scared to be without him.
As the girl who would normally count down days and knew what she wanted for her birthday dinner a month in advance, I quietly became the girl who hoped no one would notice the date on the calendar. I started to regret that in the past, I made such a big to-do of wanting the whole shebang, the whole kit and caboodle, the whole 9 yards because I wanted this year to come and go just as if it were any other day on the calendar.
As I am approaching my 32nd birthday, I have started to come into the old ways of annoying countdowns, obnoxious reminders, and the girl everyone hates. Ton might not be able to see me in my thirties, but I will. He would not want me to change anything about myself because of his passing; he would not want me to turn into someone who cannot find joy in something special because her dad has since passed away. Instead of wondering if I will make him proud in this decade, I will make myself proud because as long as I have a smile and joy in my heart, I know I would have made him proud.
Happy Birthday to all those annoying birthday counter downers, and may I wish you an Appleby’s style singing by your friends and family this year.