I have had thirty five birthdays, thirty six if you include the day that I was actually born, and it’s only for the last five that I have had any idea at all about how important my birthday is to my mother. Rather egocentrically I assumed that my birthday was all about Me Me Me. Just generally celebrating how darn fabulous I am and spoiling me with both material and baked goods. I had absolutely no idea until fairly recently that every year, on my birthday, my mother would spend the day reminiscing about the day I was born, about how she had felt, about the momentousness of it, how her life had changed, of all those years of motherhood.
My little boy just turned two.
This year he did have some awareness that it was his birthday coming up, and that he was going to be two years old, and that he would get presents, and cake. But he hasn’t yet got to the crazily excited, counting down the days, writing lists of presents he wants, type age, so me and his big sister, were definitely more excited about it than he was.
Maybe it makes me a terrible mother, who wishes to deny my children, but I find the commercialisation of birthdays and Christmas a little hard to bear. Every time I really actively try to limit the number of presents they receive. This year I bought him a book, the second in a pair, where the first is his absolute favourite (You Choose and Just Imagine, by Nick Sharratt if you’re feeling nosey). I also wrapped up his new pair of shoes that arrived a few days ago, that he desperately needs to move up into. There was also the lucky coincidence that a t-shirt I had ordered him as part of moving him into the next size up happened to arrive yesterday, and came beautifully gift wrapped, so I thought what the hell, he can pull some paper off that too! However once you add in all the presents from family there were piles and piles of presents and a room covered in scraps of paper and empty boxes by the time he was done.
Don’t get me wrong. I am very grateful to his family who want to buy my children presents. It is incredibly generous and caring of them. And he loved the presents that he got. Sometimes it just all feels a little overwhelming as the adult, but I guess I should remember being that birthday child and how excited I was unwrapping my own presents, and just let them revel in that moment that is all about them.
I spent his birthday with him, having taken annual leave from work, and with my mother, who was there on the day he was born.
We actually spent most of the day at the garden centre buying plants for my latest dream garden plans, which I am getting totally carried away with. He had a wonderful time there, eating fried breakfast, watching the fishes in the pond, climbing onto things and into things that he shouldn’t really,
and getting very excited by the enormous train track running around the whole garden centre.
It was particularly fortuitous when the bulk of his birthday presents that evening turned out to be train set related. That made for one extremely happy boy!
I now realise that birthdays are huge days not just for the children, but for their parents too. The last few days (actually weeks really) and especially his birth day itself, I have spent reminiscing on his birth and reflecting on my two years of being his mother. And now my own mother has let me into the fact that every single one of those thirty five of my birthdays, she has spent doing exactly the same. I think my grandmother is probably still doing the same now that my mother is a pensioner.
So here’s to the mothers, for all those years of mothering, and all those years of reminiscing on that day where we brought a whole new person into this world. To all those years of watching them grow whilst we try to help them become the person they are meant to be. I think we’ve earnt this one.