My big 14th birthday is coming up this week (at least according to my 4-year-old, who also thinks I am still in High School). I usually dread my birthdays. I was born on “Cabbage Night”. Not quite Halloween, but still, a Witch cake was usually presented to me after my birthday dinner of pizza or mac and cheese. My mother, you see, LOVES Halloween. When I was kid, and people still had answering machines (and home phones for that matter), she would even change the outgoing message, to one with a wicked witchy voice and cackle. By the time I was in Fourth grade, and had outgrown my mother’s five-foot frame by several inches, my mom gave me her wedding dress to wear. That year, I was a gypsy bride complete with a groovy head scarf a la Valarie Harper as Rhoda, circa 1975. I loved that year. Really, I always have loved Halloween, who doesn’t? It was just my cabbagey/witchy birthday I didn’t love so much. What kid can get excited for a plain old birthday, when there is tree toilet-papering and pumpkin-smashing mischief to be had, followed the next night by gorging on candy (and even candy apples- back before we all poisoned children on Halloween)? My kids, that’s who.
My kids love birthdays, almost as much as my mom loves Halloween. They love their birthdays best, of course, but they get equally excited for anyone, and everyone else’s birthday. They love to make and send birthday cards, they get excited to watch friends and family blow out candles on their cakes, they think of special gifts and treats for the birthday boy or girl (or mom or dad). Birthdays are awesome for my kids. Through their eyes, I see the awesomeness. I see the thoughtfulness of the witch birthday cakes, which haunted me for years. I see the kindness behind my mom dragging me and my brother out to dinner for my birthday, which happened to be our town’s designated trick-or-treating night that year, despite our pleas to be set free to stuff ourselves with candy instead. Through my girls’ eyes, I am psyched to celebrate my big Fourteenth birthday this year!
I wonder sometimes, will birthday always be so joyful for my girls. My girls’ birthdays are a cause for celebration in our family. A wonderful day when their little souls breathed air and shouted out “Watch out, here I come world!” We celebrate with a big family party, complete with delicious food and fantastic cupcakes. My girls’ birthdays are looked upon with great excitement and anticipation, so much so, that we now celebrate their half birthdays too! However, I worry that one day they may feel heaviness brought on by their birthday. My girls know their birth stories; they know the choices the adults in their lives made. They know all their moms and all their dads love them. We’ve talked about the feelings of happy-sad. But again, I worry, will it be enough? Will my daughter’s forever know that their birth brought so much joy to the world, so much love to their parents? Will they recognize that their birthday may bring pain and sorrow to the ones who love them most as well? Will they be able to separate the blessing of their birth from the pain of their parent’s decisions? Again, I pray we are enough to heal any birthday wounds.
I pray that birthdays are always joyous for my girls, and in the meantime we celebrate! We celebrate birthdays with both our girls’ birth families in different ways. Our youngest daughter’s birth mom, her husband, and their baby girl joined our big family party this year. Our oldest daughter receives cards, gifts and phone calls from her maternal birth grandparents each year. We cherish the love our daughters receive each year on their birthdays from our entire big crazy family. The love, the joy, the smiles and tears, it all gets wrapped up in the beautiful gift my daughters bring me each and every day * including my birthday!