Last Wednesday started out like any other day. Except that it was possibly the coldest day of the year. It was also my birthday.
As always, I was the first one up and had a whole two hours to indulge in my solitude as I tried to figure out how I felt about yet another birthday. After all, I’ve never been 48 before.
Birthdays have always been awkward for me. Society tells you to put the spotlight on yourself and celebrate. And yet there’s always this loud, little voice in your head that tells you that birthdays are personal and should be a time to inwardly reflect on the meaning of your life. It’s also the day that you should feel sorry for yourself.
So from the time I woke up until 7 a.m. when I had to get the kids up for school, this is what I did: I tried my hardest to revel in feelings of self-pity; looking for ways to make mountain-ass issues out of specs of dust.
Things like, “Well at 48 I guess it’s safe to say that I’ll never be married.”
Except that I LIKE not being married. In fact, I have the best of all worlds: I have kids. I have an ex who respects our shared custody agreement. And I have a pretty good relationship with my live-out boyfriend of nine years. (I say “pretty good” because I don’t want this to go to his head. Always keep them guessing. That’s my philosophy.)
Then I tried to feel sorry for myself in the career department but that didn’t work either because I’m exactly where I want to be.
Even blaming the universe for allowing my birthday to fall in the middle of the week felt stupid. (“A” for effort on my part though.)
Then at around 6:30, after a few back-and-forth texts between that “pretty good” boyfriend I mentioned, I realized that he – Greg – had no clue what day it was.
Suddenly I was all, “A-HA!!! Finally! A reason to feel sorry for myself.”
Only that wasn’t working either.
I started to wonder if this isn’t what the failed-attempted suicide victim feels like. Except instead of thinking, “I can’t even kill myself properly!” – I was thinking, “I don’t even know how to feel sorry for myself properly. Crap. What’s WRONG with me?!!”
The clock struck 7 a.m. and I had to leave my morning solitude behind and wake up the kids to get ready for our day. Making breakfast, scrambling for a clean pair of socks and reminding them to brush their teeth . . . I was going through the motions while in the back of my mind I was looking for that perfect reason to spur a bout of self pity.
I got to work and dove into my objectives for the day until at some point in the afternoon my colleagues unexpectedly gathered around my desk with a cake and a song. Yes. THAT song.
I was surprised, mildly delighted and embarrassed all at the same time.
Also, I tried to make THIS the reason why I should feel sorry for myself (“even the people I work with remembered – but not my boyfriend”) but that didn’t work either. In fact, as the texts from him continued to come in (“how’s your day going” . . . “I’m looking forward to our weekend”. . . yadda, yadda, yadda) I couldn’t help but see the humour and was even savouring his forgetfulness like a short-lived secret that I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep forever.
Then at around 4 o’clock I received an unexpected email from a newspaper that had picked up my “Musings by Mona” column. The attachment included two tear-sheets with the message, “Thank you for letting us use your columns. They were wonderful!”
That’s when I gave up all effort in trying to find reasons for self pity. It’s also when I decided to tell Greg about my little secret in the way of a text, telling him about my latest publication credit.
“Best. Birthday. Present. EVER.” I wrote in my text to him.
I so wish I could have seen his face when he read it because all of a sudden the texts from him came flooding in.
I’m soooooo sorry.
I swear! I haven’t looked at a calendar since Christmas!
I feel terrible!!!
So Wednesday came and went and I didn’t get to celebrate because it was, well, Wednesday. But I went to bed with a feeling of – not self-pity – but contentment.
I’m 48 and happy. Why would I want to sabotage that even for a day?
Well it’s Friday today so guess what we’re doing tonight?
Celebrating my birthday of course!