On this very day in 1998, I decided I hated birthdays.
I love my birthday but am not such a fan of big hooplas or anything over the top. Wait. I suppose that I should say that I am not such a big fan of EXPECTATIONS for grand gestures. There is a difference.
Which is good, for me, because today my daughter gave me a stomach full of vomit as a surprise gift (unexpectedly). Note to self: do not rush L when drinking a smoothie.
But years 19-21 were not good for my expectations. Of anything. Life, friends, work, and birthdays. I'm thinking of sending my children to college in Somalia for precisely this reason--it will make their transition in to the real world all the more easier. College was way too good to me.
Particularly with birthdays. Because when you and 2,000 of your closest friends return to campus every year on the precise week that marks your entry into the world, well...you come to expect big blowouts.
I had fantastic birthdays from 1995-1997. When no one was studying yet and there were no excuses not to join in the fun. I went to school in a small town. Tiny. There were, maybe, two decent restaurants, three if you include McDonalds, and four bars. If there was a birthday, you knew it. If there was a 21st birthday, you REALLY knew it.
Enter the real world on my 22nd birthday. When I cried because my friends were hours away, beer cost more than $1 a pitcher and I had to...work. And Mike got the pleasure of celebrating that evening with a puffy, slobbery mess. This was the time in our lives when he became my personal Jesus and bore the brunt of all of my unhappiness and insecurity. Fun times.
We all know it wasn't the birthday, so much as what was missing. The start of a new school year was over. Living with my best friends was done. I was starting a new phase of life which I didn't care particularly much for. There was no orientation. No cafeteria. No roommates. No morning classes followed by a 2-hour afternoon nap. No one cleaning my bathroom. No Days of Our Lives after lunch.
And then no party. It sucked.
And it's taken me a few years, but I've come back around. I've mellowed. I've had children, and well, let's be honest, that's a sure cure for a lot of selfish behavior. And then I got to throw little girl birthday parties. And I got to be the one to plan all kinds of fun for my children, and as it turns out, I rather like being on that side of things.
And all of a sudden, eleven years later, nothing is missing. And I am cleaning puke and doing dishes and having sushi for lunch with my best friend and going for a paddle boat ride in Forest Park with my husband (which I have been BEGGING to do for years).
And it is perfect.