Birthdays without parents
Every year I wake up in the morning on my birthday (yes, at 5am) and feel sad. The excitement that I’ve experienced since I can remember (It’s MY BIRTHDAY!) that brings me back to when all I wanted was peach colored overalls and another charm for my plastic charm bracelet is still so real. But without my parents around to acknowledge/share this day, it is clouded. So on September 13th (oh haaaay Virgos!) I sat on the edge of my bed and just poked at what hurts. I listened to Dad’s voicemails that I’ve kept for 5 years. Then I read some letters that Dad and Mom had written to me. I wanted to feel close to them again and devoid of a time machine, this is the only way to do that.
I’m in a strange zone. My Mom isn’t gone the way Dad is. And yet in so many ways she is. I kept writing and re-writing the title of this post as I know that technically I’m not “without parentS”, just “parent”. But I think you will get it and understand.
I am so lucky to have others that have lost parents around me.
Me: “What is about my birthday that makes me miss my parents so? Do you have this too?”
Awesome friend: “Yes. It is so hard.”
And just like that, I’m not alone. One of the things that Mom would always do is to help us feel important and special on our birthdays. I’m pretty sure that’s what everyone wants on their birthday. Somehow we revert back to hoping that someone will bring us a shiny present, a florescent cupcake and a big hug from those that raised you. I wrote about it last year. It would be ludicrous to expect any acknowledgement from Mom. I don’t think she knows my name anymore, let alone knows it’s my birthday. But it’s a struggle! Do I call Mom and tell her it’s my birthday and then wait for her to say something? Do I bring a cake for myself to Mom’s house so she feels included or will that make it worse and she will not feel good about not having presents? Or will she realize she forgot and then feel bad?
This year I decided to throw myself a party. Not a little, “come over for a slice of cake” type of party, but a real “come drink drinks and eat food with me out at a restaurant” type of party.
I was so honored to have 10 friends come out with me. 10 friends! My good friend Julie laughed and laughed at me when I told her I thought I had 10 friends coming. Showed you Julie! This is so NOT like the time Dawn thought she still had enough friends to finish a keg. I’m proud of these friendships. I felt like that proud kid that just can’t wait to show something off. “Hey! My friends are awesome! Bring them drinks!” These are deep friendships; the kind I can call on to take my children when I need a break, to talk about my mom, to come over when my kids are hurt and bring them their favorite thing, and to laugh hysterically at my outfits and then tell me how to fix them (thanks Rayna).
So this is what I’m working on. Each birthday I will spend some time remembering, crying and missing what used to be there. And then each birthday I will throw myself a party. Part of not having parents to support me has taught me that I am still very much in need of support. So I am trying to be more intentional about finding ways to get that support. As much as this birthday party was about getting awesome people together, it was also about thanking those awesome people for the role they have played in my life. I can’t wait for next year.