I think after you turn 21, it’s typical for birthdays to become less thrilling and exciting. I used to have an unhappy relationship with my birthday because it reminded me of my past disappointments. For a good 13 years, I always cried on my birthday. The emotions were too much and I would dissolve into a puddle of tears (sometimes not exactly sure why) before the end of the day.
Throughout college and graduate school I usually had a final exam on my birthday. This is the joy of having a mid-December birth date. On my 21st birthday, I was studying for a calculus exam. I went to a bar, took a shot, and then went back to my all-nighter of cramming. Upon entering the working world, I would just get depressed sitting at my desk thinking, “But this is my special day.”
When I started dating my husband, I decided it was time to return to celebrating my birthdays with the same excitement and glee I experienced as a little girl. I decreed I will have cake and surprises! I will take the day off from school/work (and so will my husband)! It will be a special day to celebrate me just being me.
The same careful thought and love I pour into celebrating my husband’s and children’s birthdays are shared on my day too and I LOVE IT. This is one day I don’t need to plan anything because my husband takes the lead on deciding where we’re going, what we’re doing, where/what we’re eating, and how we’re celebrating. It doesn’t have to be elaborate (meals lovingly prepared at home are incredibly delicious because I didn’t cook them and this past year I opted to run a few errands I really wanted to get done, which is a luxury with three kids ages three and under). Even so, my birthday plans often include something elaborate because my husband is just that awesome.
My husband often stresses about outdoing my birthday plans each year, but I’m really just thrilled he puts thought into the day. We have the tradition of baking and decorating cakes for one another. It’s incredibly sweet (Ha-ha! Pun-intended) and I always request the same exact cake. My husband gets a little more creative with his requests and my oldest daughter has been on a princess castle cake kick for 2 years and running (one cake decorating class has gone a long way for my skills with frosting). We all have a major sweet tooth, so cake is a big thing in my house. We do it up right.
In reality, a birthday is just another day on the calendar, but to me it represents a specific time I intentionally pause and think about all the wonderful things I have in my life. When I read my journal entry from that day, I smile because it’s full of reflection (a given having my birthday at the end of the year) and gratitude for the wonderful family and friends I have in my life. I like to think back to where I was the same day on previous years, how I felt then, how I feel now and every year I feel like I’ve made progress.
Here’s a snapshot of my birthday thoughts the past few years:
I was exactly two weeks away from giving birth to my first daughter, I was on the precipice of an amazing transformation to becoming a mother and I was buzzing with excitement.
We were on vacation in Mexico (what’s not to like?!).
Pregnant with twins, super hormonal, panicked, anxious about the unknown, thankful for a healthy pregnancy, but also incredibly vomitus.
At a major turning point in my life – I had begun a journey for spirituality and personal self-discovery. Beginning to really feel calm and centered.
Love and gratitude.
Each year brings something new to experience and discover and I like how my birthday marks the occasion. I love knowing I am aware of each year instead of letting this time pass by in a blur, then think back on this time as “when the kids were little.”
I realize you don’t need to take a whole day, or even a few hours to give yourself a moment to appreciate yourself and reflect on your life, but it’s nice to treat yourself. This is further punctuated as parents because you know we put our kids before ourselves SO often.
So I hope you pick a day to make it all about you because you deserve it.