Yesterday was my birthday. 41. I think I speak for millions of adults and parents out there who say it's really not a big deal - and mean it. For me, it falls one paycheck after Christmas, so my poor husband has to look at me with puppy-dog eyes every year and say, "You know honey, I didn't get you anything..."
I get it, and I truly don't mind. Seriously - I handed him one of our last two $20 bills when he left for work that morning, exchanging a knowing look - this is in case you want to buy cards, and only because it might matter to the kids.
Turns out I get the annual after work call, "honey, I'll be a few minutes late..." meaning, he's stopping off at the grocery store to use that $20 to buy me cards and maybe some flowers. I told him, "babe, don't worry about it, save the $20 for milk and come on home." And I meant it. I really did. 'Cause when you've been married to the love of your life for almost 15 years, you know his strengths and weaknesses, and you live with it and love him just the way he is.
And let's be honest. I really want those cool new Skechers Shape-Ups for when I begin, in theory, going to the YMCA to work out a couple of times a week and for taking walks around the neighborhood. I've been saving my gift cards and store coupons, and if I shop Jan. 13 - 17 at Kohl's, I'll get them for practically nothing. Or at least half the cost.
When I got home from work yesterday, only one of my kids remembered my birthday - and let's all take a collective guess at who that was. Giving you a second. Yes, it was Connor. He'd given me a big hug that morning. Griffin I forgive because he's exactly like his Dad and I cut him some slack; Olivia is only 6 and, as we've established, if it's not her birthday, it's not on her radar.
So I come home to find that only Connor has started his homework, and not until almost 5. Griffin pretends he doesn't have any until I threaten to look in his backpack - then he miraculously remembers. As they work (and whose young kids can really function and do homework at 5:30 or 6:00? Not mine.), Olivia proceeds to pester and torment Griffin, leading to arguments and screaming matches and a good old-fashioned blow-up by Mom. All televisions get turned off, boys get separated to different tables for homework, and Olivia is banished to her room.
"Really kids? Really? Today of all days? Can you just get along and not be a pain in the ass, just for today???" was my plea.
"What do you mean, Mom?" asks Griffin.
"Dummy, today's Mom's birthday," says Connor.
Love, hugs and apologies ensue. I let it last for about 2 minutes before we resume our previous positions and continue the homework battle. By the time Larry got home, sans cards and flowers per my instruction (which, let me remind you, I REALLY am okay with), I was completely frazzled.
"Mom, what do you want to do for your birthday?" asks Griffin.
"I want Daddy to decide. I don't want to have to make any decisions," I reply.
"But Mom, it's your birthday," Connor presses on. "You are supposed to get to do anything you want. You have to choose."
They don't get it yet - honestly, the greatest gift of all would be to get to completely shut it down for 24 hours. I mean everything. Make no decisions, be responsible for nothing. Nada. Let someone else handle everything. Bless their innocent little hearts, they really don't get it.
So Larry comes through with a bunch of Outback Steakhouse gift certificates that he got for Christmas from his boss, so we decided to wrap things up and go out to dinner to celebrate my birthday. In the car, all three kids are in the backseat, and Griffin and Olivia pick up right where they left off. I finally ask Olivia, completely exhasperated, why, oh why, are you making such bad choices today?
"Because my brain is dirty," she answers, without hesitation.
Larry and I exchange surprised glances, not sure if we were allowed to crack up.
Then Olivia starts to shake her head back and forth, eyes squeezed closed. "Get clean! Get clean!" she says over and over. I'll leave that to your interpretation...
Anyway, that broke the tension, and we were all able to laugh out loud and have a lovely evening together. I love my family so, and their health and happiness are truly the only gift I'll ever need. Happy birthday to me, indeed.