6.20.2006

On Birthdays

I never thought of my late July birthday as my mother’s anniversary. It was only ever about me and all the typical trappings of a summer celebration: water balloon tosses, relays in the pool, ice cream cake, and piles of presents beneath leafy trees. Later it was open-air Dave Matthews concerts and tailgated beer. Once it was a Lake George amusement park with a guy named Chris who kissed me for the first time. It was my day, each and every one of them.

As I come up on one year of motherhood, I know differently. July 21st isn’t simply my daughter’s birthday. I’ll act like it is—of course I will—but when the day dawns hot and yellow through sunflower curtains I will think of my own life, as different now as Tolby is new. It is more my day than any wet May Sunday, but when I don’t get breakfast in bed it’s because of what every child knows: that a mother’s anniversary is never truly about her. I will get up first to watch the sun in glints of gold on my daughter’s head as she lays in her crib, one year older. And I think it will be the best Mother’s Day I ever had.

My mom calls me every July 30th with the same message. “I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the middle of the night when I went into labor, and your darn father refused to wake up…”

18 Comments:

Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

Funny, I never thought of my birthday as my mother's day before. Even after the two actual Mother's Days that I've had it still never occured to me.

thanks for making it clear.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

What a smart observation.

My mother, too, reminisces every year at my birthday. Plus, she tells me the story of the little girl who gave her mom a present ever year at her own birthday, saying "If it weren't for you, it would't be my birthday."

Yeah, I never did it.

9:48 PM  
Anonymous MIM said...

I have a friend who always brings me a present to my kids' birthday parties. It's so sweet.

10:23 PM  
Blogger Jene said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Jene said...

sorry, commented in the wrong place, deleted it and moved it to the Father's Day post. :)

not surprisingly (you've met my mother), my mom never had anything nice to say to me on my birthday, so i never thought of it as a day special to her. i'm sure one of the reasons i don't want children is because i don't want to perpetuate the dysfunctional relationships found in my family. but i'm ok with that. i'm happy with my cats. :)

9:45 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

:) My father likes to tell me the story about he sat down and had a cup of coffee for an hour with my doctor while my poor mom was in labor. I guess all parents have those little labor stories and they are always always entertaining. I.e. I went to see my friend's new baby yesterday and he told the story about how he was at the bar on Saturday when his wife called to tell him that he best get his arse home--the contractions were 10-15 minutes apart. And his words were, "Sweetie, we don't have to do anything until they are 3-5 minutes" and her words were, "Get your ASS home RIGHT. NOW!"

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

If you wake up before she does, I'm really going to be amazed. Are you sure you won't just send me in to bring the little screamer to you?

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Lia said...

I've been visiting for a while, and I love this sentiment - my mother-out-law wished me happy birthday this year when my daughter turned one and I loved that it was a celebration of our jounrey together. Like you I am gonna celebrate her but hope I will always remember that mad, mad night.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Bri said...

My daughter was born on July 21st too...how sweet a thought that it is my day as well as her first day. Very sweet...

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Gurukarm Kaur said...

My DH's b'day is 7/29... happy Leo b'day coming up!

My mom always did something similar, every year on my birthday she'd call me and say "I know where I was (X #) years ago today!" I miss that, since she died.

I never thought of my kids birthdays as being my "mothers day" too. Thanks for that thought!

10:50 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

My mom does the same thing. She and dad also call and sing "Happy Birthday".

9:22 AM  
Anonymous JGS said...

I certainly never understood about the specialness of our birthdays for our parents until our Okapis were born. When they reached one year we threw a party. It was a party for them, a celebration for us for achieving the one year mark, still alive (barely). Each year is the same, a party for them, but a ritual for us, a marking of time, of survival, of achievement.

Of course we have the strange situation where their birthday, my wife's birthday and my birthday are all within 5 days of each other so we are also celebrating out birthdays, too.

8:22 PM  
Blogger J said...

I always reminisce on my daughter's birthday, too. I think of the night before, alone in the hospital, the pain of contractions when they induced me, the elation when she was born. I love it..then again, I reminisce our honeymoon too...like, "Today is the day we flew to England and the jetlag almost killed me...today is the day we took the boat to Holland...today we were in Paris..." Nice.

11:16 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

That's so true... makes me want to get presents for all the mom's I know!

3:40 PM  
Blogger lildb said...

awww. our kiddos are only four days apart.

(I only said that to distract from the tears I'm shedding over your lovely prose. did it work?)

happy anniversary, Mom.

6:21 PM  
Blogger Kell said...

You know, on my kids birthdays and the days leading up to them, I always sit back and think about where i was and what I was going through at that time however many years ago BUT I have never thought about the fact that my mum may do the same.
To be honest though, I doubt my mum spends much time reminising. Shes not very maternal and hated childbirth! I have no details about my birth. When I ask her, she isnt even sure about what time I appeared. lol.

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Jenny said...

Mother's Anniversary. Never thought of it that way before. Very insightful (and so sweet).

11:54 AM  
Blogger something blue said...

July 21st was my due date with my little girl who will soon turn one. (But she arrived five days early.)

Their birthdays are sweeter because it marks such a momentous occasion in our lives.

3:06 PM  

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